Global and International Studies



To current majors: If you are a current GLIS major interested in contacting any of the alums below, please contact us with the nature of your query and we will try to forward your info to the relevant alum. Email .

To our alumni: If you are a former GLIS, GLOBE, INTST major interested in sharing your stories with our current students who are very interested in hearing them. Email .

Christiana Cacciapuoti

At Penn State, I graduated with three degrees in three and a half years; Public Relations, Global and International Studies (GLIS) and Italian Language and Literature.

I now run account management for an advertising technology start-up in NYC, building my company’s relationships with some of the largest media and technology brands in the world.

It may seem like my degrees do not contribute to my career, but of the three, International Studies has been by far the most applicable. My job requires me to interact with clients from all over the world every single day and to frequently travel internationally. In my industry, it would be nearly impossible to find a firm that does business exclusively within the U.S., so my International Studies degree helps me in every interview I conduct. Having a global perspective matters and is something companies value highly.

I think my story is a great example of one of the many things you can do with a GLIS degree: it is not only for those who want to be diplomats! In today’s global economy, I would argue that it would be a poor decision not to consider adding a GLIS major!

Katie Greco

I graduated class of 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in International Politics, Russian and Global and International Studies (GLIS). I currently live in Houston, TX. I work for an international company that handles the relocation of executives around the world. We coordinate all parts of their relocation, from household goods shipment, to temporary housing and settling into a new country through language or cultural training. My studies in GLIS helped to get my foot in the door and continues to assist me in my day-to-day activities. In my job, I work with our international offices daily and I must constantly be aware of the cultural differences between us to be able to coordinate things efficiently and quickly. Having the study abroad semester also helps me understand on a smaller scale what it is like to leave your family, friends, and life for a new city and country.

Emily Shea

I graduated from Penn State in May 2016 with a B.S. in Global & International Studies (GLIS), a B.A. in Advertising, and a minor in French. Throughout my time at Penn State, my professors emphasized the importance of expanding our global perspectives. As a sophomore, I spent a semester abroad in Paris. I was the only American in my Intercultural Communications class, learning alongside Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and German students. Each student brought a unique perspective to any project we tackled; approaching each task in a completely different way. American culture teaches us that our way is the best way, but that is not how the world works, nor how it should work. Communication is socially constructed, which makes understanding how different cultural backgrounds shape professional behaviors so imperative to success in the real world. 

I currently work at SapientRazorfish, a large advertising agency in Manhattan, doing social media for Dove. I interact with brilliant, talented people from all over the world on a daily basis. When working on any major brand, especially a brand with a global presence, it is extremely important to have a strong awareness of cultural differences and values. With the constant rise in technology, our world is constantly getting smaller. Being able to communicate effectively with your colleagues and clients is invaluable to your personal and professional success. By getting a global education in your college years, you’re already a step ahead of the game. 

Ana Y. Ayala

Ana coordinates public diplomacy programs and policy for the Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) for South Asia and Central Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan).  She previously managed the Charles B. Rangel and Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship programs the State Department’s premier diversity recruitment program for the diplomatic core. 

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of State in 2010 she worked in a number of different industries:  education, political campaigns, private firms, and non-profit organizations.  Studying International Studies at Penn State solidified Ana’s interest in working with an international audience, whether in a domestic capacity or while serving overseas.

She received a master’s degree in International Peace and Conflict Resolution from American University and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Japanese, East Asian Studies, and International Studies from the Pennsylvania State University with two minors in Latin American Studies and History.  Ms. Ayala speaks Portuguese, French, Spanish and Japanese. 

Ana writes to say that: “Your path to success is determined by your actions; focus on your goals, plans to reach your goals and ability to not compare yourself to others.  If you’re not sure what you want to do, take time to explore different career paths, ask your career center to introduce you to alumni in that field – do your research.  What you do with your degree in Global and International Studies (GLIS) is up to you.”

Alex Hayes

Through a mix of fortuitous situations in college, I ended up with 3 majors –Finance, Spanish, and Global and International Studies (GLIS)– and 1 minor –Int’l Business. Upon graduation, Istarted work at Siemens Healthcare as a financial analyst and participant in their Finance Leadership Development Program. I did four 6-month rotations and moved from Philly (Malvern) to Chicago, then to Orlando, and finally back to Philly. I’ve been working in the Malvern office ever since.

Being a company based in Germany, Siemens has offered me job opportunities abroad (of which I will soon be taking advantage), as well as daily interactions with people from all over the world. After about four years with the company, I was nominated by our local CFO to participate in an International Leadership & Finance MBA program. The program is sponsored by Siemens and is based in Nuremberg, Germany. Over the past year and a half, I traveled to Nuremberg, Munich, Venice, and Shanghai for classes. Recently, I submitted my completed my master’s thesis, which was the final evaluation before receiving my MBA. With graduation coming up in June, I’m excited to finally call myself an MBA graduate.

Between my mix of majors/minor and my study abroad experience in Sevilla, Spain, my time at Penn State prepared me extremely well for a career working at an international corporation. Even relocating around the United States is much easier after having studied in a different country.

In my personal time, I enjoy traveling and visiting friends from the various places I have lived. I am an avid PSU and Philadelphia sports fan, and still have season tickets to football games in Happy Valley. I recently served as a Smeal Alumni Mentor, and very much enjoy getting involved back at PSU whenever I can.

Jim Byrne

I live New York, New York and work for Strategy and Business Development for Altice, a global telecommunications company. Professionally, I am an ex-management consultant now working in Strategy and Business Development for Altice, a global telecommunications company. I spend my free time either pounding the pavement training for the NYC marathon, pounding a basketball at one of New York’s basketball courts, or exploring the New York’s restaurants, museums and music venues. Thus far, my professional career has taken me to clients such as Facebook and University of California, and to places as exotic as Santiago, Chile and Albany, New York. In every role, I have worked extensively with colleagues from around the world. My Global and International Studies (GLIS) major prepared me for success in a globalized workplace.

Education: 2010 graduate with degrees in Supply Chain & Information Systems, International Studies, and Spanish and a minor in International Business.

Alexandra Farrell

Graduated: December 2011

Areas of Study: BA International Studies, BA Spanish, BA Public Relations & Advertising, Minor International Business 

Current Employer: TransPerfect

Job TitleSenior Director, Strategic Accounts 


Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had global interests and wanted to see the world. When I came to Penn State, I didn’t have a clear picture of what I type of job I wanted, but I knew that I wanted a role that would allow me to travel and work internationally. I began my university career majoring in Public Relations & Advertising and Spanish. At the onset of my time at Penn State, I wasn’t aware of the Global and International Studies (GLIS) program, but luckily my advisor informed me; it was a perfect match.

Through the International Studies major I was able to have a link across my other areas of study that brought all of my coursework into a global focus. One of the cornerstones of this was my study abroad experience in Seville, Spain in the spring semester of 2011. Through this experience and my coursework in State College, I learned how to communicate diplomatically and form relationships across cultures and borders. 

Upon my graduation,I accepted a role as an Account Manager with a Transperfect, a global company specializing in language services based in Philadelphia. From the beginning it seemed like the perfect fit for my background. I would be working for a company with offices in dozens of locations around the world whose mission was to help other companies operate and communicate globally. The skills I learned through the GLIS program were valuable in setting me up for success in this role asI progressed through the ranks. 

After about 2.5 years of working for the company, I had the opportunity to apply for a transfer to the European headquarters in London, in a position that I ultimately accepted. Now my role focuses on overseeing enterprise clients within the Life Sciences and Consumer Products industries across the Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. To date I’ve attended and conducted business meetings on site in 20 different countries, and work actively with colleagues and clients in dozens more. It has been an incredibly eye-opening and fulfilling experience. I can confidently say that my Penn State education and specifically the emphasis on global synergies through the GLIS program has been a key contributor to my success in the 5 years since my graduation. 

Ian Vickery

I graduated from Penn State in 2011 with majors in International Politics, History and Global and International Studies (GLIS) and a minor in Spanish. The reason I pursued GLIS because I had chosen to study abroad in Seville, Spain as part of a CIEE program. Little did I know that this decision would impact the future trajectory of my life enormously. 

Before studying abroad, I always had a love for international culture which translated in my desire to study history and international politics. I always knew I wanted to study abroad and had originally thought about studying in Germany or the Netherlands through a program that offered its instruction in English. However, after receiving great advice from my academic adviser, who was from Switzerland and spoke more than five languages, I decided to instead study abroad in Seville, Spain with the aim at improving my Spanish, which I had previously studied to fulfill my language requirement. To be honest, I was nervous at first because the program was going to be entirely in Spanish and I was to live with a host family and would have to speak in Spanish the entire time. During this time, I also declared my third major of GLIS and a minor in Spanish because of the credits I would earn while abroad. In the end, the semester ended up being absolutely amazing and changed my perspective on life completely. I ended up having an even greater love of international culture than I began and finally understood the value of knowing a second language. I came out of the program fluent in Spanish and with a strong desire to continue to study the language and increase my proficiency. 

After I graduated, this love of Spanish and the culture of both Spain and Latin America pushed me to volunteer as an English teacher in Medellin, Colombia through a foundation. Once again I lived with a host family and taught in a school in a very poor part of the city. The experience, which lasted for 8 months, was eye-opening to say the least and taught me so many valuable lessons on a personal level. To this day, I still receive messages not only from the students that I taught, but also from the people in the neighborhood in which I lived. 

After Colombia, I still had not fully satiated my love of Spanish and decided to go back to Spain for a year. Through CIEE, the same organization with which I had studied abroad in Seville, I completed a program in which I taught Business English in several companies throughout Madrid. This experience not only gave me more exposure to Spanish culture and language, but also gave me both corporate and teaching experience, which have been invaluable to me. The year, as a whole, was unforgettable and I even got a chance to visit my host family in Seville on several occasion for the major holidays (La Feria and Semana Santa). 

Upon returning to the US, I got a corporate job in major hotel company outside of Washington D.C. However, after a year, I realized that my true passion was teaching as I missed everything about it from my time abroad. I decided to pursue my Masters of Arts in Teaching with initial certification in secondary education. I completed this program online and continued to work at the hotel company in the meantime. Just this past January, I began the student teaching portion of the program and am currently at a high school in the Montgomery County Public School system in Maryland. My aim is to teach high school level social studies next year, particularly history and/or government and politics. 

Overall, the GLIS program impacted my life enormously and I would not have had the same life-changing experiences if it were not for the program. I look back at studying abroad and what I learned in GLIS to see how it opened up my eyes to the rest of the world and pushed me to remove myself from the comforts of the culture in which I grew up to experience something entirely new and different. As a teacher, I try to instill the same open-mindedness and understanding of a global perspective in my students, and I encourage them to travel as much as possible and study other cultures and ways of life. I hope that my class at the high school level encourages them to think about studying abroad themselves and pursuing Global and International Studies when they are in college. 

Brandon Goodman

I’m a 32-year-old currently living in New York City after about 10 years living in the Philadelphia area close to family and friends. At Penn State, I majored in Marketing and Global and International Studies (GLIS) and minored in Spanish and International Business. The highlight of my international experience while at school was studying abroad through the IES program in Barcelona, Spain. Given that I was studying Spanish and wanted to take full advantage of learning the language and culture there, I opted to live with a family.  That decision, to this day, was one of the best decisions of my life.  While the primary language in Barcelona is Catalan (different from the Castellano Spanish that we learn in school and speak here), I was relieved that my host family spoke Castellano in the home (they didn’t speak any English!).  The host family (mi madre y padre) were such amazingly wonderful and caring people who loved me and my roommates like we were their own children.  Each night, my host family would cook delicious 3 course meals, and my roommates and I would have a sit down meal talking with them for hours upon hours. These dinners, along with making a concerted effort to immerse myself in Barcelona, resulted in me becoming practically fluent in Spanish during the 5 months I was there.  Despite wonderful Spanish classes in the U.S., nothing advances language skills quite like living amidst locals on a daily basis. 

As a result of this experience abroad, I have gained relative fluency in the language and a much different perspective on the world and its different cultures.  This has been a true asset in my career as well as activities in the community.

My career:

I have spent my career in sales and sales training capacities, almost all within the pharmaceutical industry.  After three years as a successful sales representative at GlaxoSmithKline, I progressed into the home office as a national sales training manager. I spent six years in various roles as a national sales training manager at GSK and Janssen Biotech, training and enabling sales force readiness on product launches while also enhancing their scientific knowledge and selling skills. Most recently, I have re-emerged in a specialized sales role at Gilead Sciences with future aspirations to obtain roles in sales leadership and marketing. 

Over the years within sales, I’ve had dozens of customers in the New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia areas who are Spanish-speaking. The ability to converse with them and relate to their issues has resulted in enhanced access, stronger relationships, and better business results.  Also, living abroad and majoring in GLIS has helped shape my global perspective, which is vital when working in highly-matrixed and complex international corporations. 

My volunteering efforts:

Lastly, within the last year, I volunteered as a teacher of English as a Second Language at the Center for Literacy in Philadelphia.  I developed a curriculum and taught a class to 4 adult students, who are eager working professionals looking to learn English and thrive in the U.S.  This was an amazing opportunity and truly a sweet spot for me, as it combined my passions of teaching andhelping people, Spanish language, and living abroad.  It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Without my experience living abroad or my degrees in GLIS and Spanish, I don’t think I would have had this great opportunity.

Thank you to those who have read my story. I’m hopeful that something in here has inspired you or assisted in your decision-making.  Please feel free to reach out to me via email if you’d like to connect.

Megan Miraval

Hello my name is Megan Miraval and I am a 2011 Penn State Graduate from the GLOBE and International Studies Program. For the past 6 years, I have been working at Major League Baseball in the Commissioner’s Office in New York City. Upon graduation from college, I was fortunate enough to intern here within our Diversity and Strategic Alliances group and shortly after accepted a full time position within that group. I worked in that capacity supporting the league’s workforce and supplier diversity initiatives and just recently switched over to a role within the company’s Office Operations and Facilities department, in which I handle a lot of the hospitality for our in-house meetings and events. Just recently I traveled to Los Angeles for the World Baseball Classic finals which gave me some insight into the operations of our International group here, and the inroads we are making to better globalize the game. I am grateful to have the base of coursework and learning from Penn State’s GLOBE and International Studies Program, which has helped me in various components of my roles here from Spanish translation to fundamental understanding of how to appeal to various cultures and communities to yield true economic impact for our business. If you are on the fence about what major to pick, perhaps explore adding this to another major of interest to you at Penn State. I was able to triple major in Journalism, Spanish, and International Studies which provided a comprehensive course-load for the type of job I wanted to land after graduation. Best of luck to all future Penn State Global and International Studies trailblazers! 

Julie Sommers (Frasco)

I am a Management Consultant in Talent and Organization Strategy at Accenture Federal Services (AFS) in Washington, DC.  I am an MBA Candidate at Georgetown University (2019) (Evening Program).  I am also a Board Member on at Public Safety Academy at Anacostia High School.  I have worked with Accenture for 6 years; I’m a manager who specializes in human capital strategy and technology implementation. My areas of expertise are HR and Procurement; my focus is on helping my federal clients make their workforce even more high-performing: helping the organization implement a new regulation, or design new processes based on the changing demands of constituents. In my free time, I work on sustainability initiatives, helping to introduce Accenture’s offerings to the federal government that can help curb climate change. I’m part of a passionate AFS Clean Technology Team.  My studies at PSU in Political Science and Global and International Studies (GLIS) were what drew me to DC and led me to seek out a job where I could make a difference. The research framework that I learned doing my thesis has continued to help me as a consultant. When I work with a client I am helping them solve some of their most difficult and systemic problems; I find myself going back to focusing in on the problem statement, evidence and how I can test my theories. My international experience in Argentina during my junior year has also been influential. While I was studying abroad I interned with a human rights group; this experience made me realize how important it is to be part of a solution. I wanted to be part of making our government work better, even if it is a slow process, and that is what I feel like I have the opportunity to do now as a federal consultant. We help bring the best of industry to our public agencies and help them serve constituents better. 

One small nugget of advice: The skills you learn in college – organizing your workload, prioritizing, being ambitious, communicating with peers who are different than you – these are all really important things that will translate to any industry. Don’t be afraid to invite people to coffee to hear about their jobs and learn what is out there. Then, as you apply to positions, make sure you put your application in terms of what’s in it for them – what you bring to the table to make their company or office even better!

Heather Ellis

I’m originally from Lock Haven, and I graduated from the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State in 2005 with a triple major – History, Jewish Studies, and Global and International Studies (GLIS).

My goal had been to continue on to graduate school, complete a PhD in Modern Germany History, and work in academia.  Despite my interest in German history, I studied French, and spent the spring of my junior year in Paris with IES.  It was a life-changing event in every sense of the word, and I credit that time with leading me down the path I am on now.

My time in Paris was challenging, as it was my first time away from home, my first time abroad, and my first time living in a big city.  My classes were in French, which was tough, but we had Fridays off, so I was able to spend time both studying and traveling.  I had a pretty severe case of home sickness at first, but my mother knocked some sense into me by saying that I needed to seize the moment and enjoy every second of being abroad.  It was very good advice.

I returned to Penn State to finish my degree, and then received a DAAD Fellowship to spend a year in Berlin after graduation to learn German.  I immediately fell in love with the city, which was literally under construction.  It was an amazing feeling to witness the city changing and evolving, and trying to figure out its place in the world.  My time in Berlin was also tough at times, but my experience in Paris with IES prepared me for the frustrations that go along with living in another country.

I returned to the US after my year in Berlin to start a PhD program at Brown University in Modern German History, but I was very unhappy and felt Berlin pulling me back.  I finished my Masters at Brown, but left the PhD program and returned to Berlin, this time for good.  I started working full-time in the summer as a guide, and then spent several winters working for various study abroad programs, including IES.  

I have been living in Berlin now for over ten years, and I applied for German citizenship in January.  Germany does not allow dual citizenship for Americans, but there are multiple loopholes in the immigration law regarding dual citizenship, and I am hopeful that my application will be approved. 

I’ve been very lucky to see so much of Europe, and recently I decided to go even further, and have traveled through some of Asia the past few years – India, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.  My first trips while in Europe gave me the courage to step even further outside of my comfort zone and to visit countries to experience cultures which are very different than mine.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of study abroad in my life.  Without that time abroad, I would have never been brave enough to return to Europe, and I would have certainly never imagined that it was even a possibility to settle so far away from home permanently.  I have worked hard to assimilate into the German world around me: I am fluent in German, I have a Berlin-born dachshund, and I am in a relationship with a German.  I still hold on to some of my American identity. For instance I can’t seem to give up JIF peanut butter. But mostly I have adapted to the German way of life.  I never imagined my life going in this direction, but I am endlessly grateful that it did, and this long journey of creating a life abroad started with my semester in Paris so many years ago.

Tara Stowe Hossain

I am an independent creative writer currently living with my husband in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

In 2007, I studied abroad at the Universidad de Costa Rica. Spending four months living with a host family in a foreign country was transformational. I had previously traveled outside of the United States; however, being fully immersed in a foreign culture was a completely different experience and really expanded my world view by testing my ability to think differently, adapt, and problem solve. I maintained a blog during this experience, which furthered my desire to become a writer one day. I knew I should first lay a foundation for my career in the corporate world and gain some more life experience before fully venturing into my true passion.

I graduated in 2008 with bachelor of arts degrees in Advertising-Public Relations and International Studies and minors in Spanish and Sociology.

In June 2008, I moved to New York City where I worked for almost 8 years on the account services team for several agencies specializing in healthcare communications, public relations, and marketing.

Without my study abroad experience, I simply would not be the person I am today. I made incredible lifelong friendships, enhanced my aptitude for the Spanish language, and became more attuned to the diverse beauty of other cultures. I have since added 12 more countries to my passport including living in Bali for a few months. I think one of the most important lessons I learned studying abroad was to find comfort in things outside my comfort zone, which has since led to the decision of moving to The Netherlands in January 2017. Dare to discover the world around you and you may find it’s wilder than your wildest dreams!

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