About Us

The URep Abroad Story

URep Abroad was created in 2010 by Dr. Shawntia Key, who, as an undergraduate, struggled to find resources for Black students traveling abroad and wanted to create content for those needing support. After working in international education (IE) for over fifteen years, Dr. Key realized there was a lack of intentional community spaces to uplift, inspire, and support underrepresented international educators and professionals. URep Abroad was founded to construct an affirming space that supports emerging and experienced leaders while fostering an ethos of trust and ensuring everyone has a seat at the table. 

Read Our Justification                                                                What is international education?

URep Abroad Staff

Dr. Shawntia Key

(she/her/hers)

Shawntia has more than ten years of experience in international education with professional expertise in student advising and leadership, senior management, strategic planning, international partnership, and program development.

Shawntia received a Doctorate in higher education management with her dissertation focusing on Black American Undergraduates Studying Abroad: What Are Their Intentions and Behaviors?

Shawntia also has a Masters in international education, a Bachelor in international studies, and a TESOL certificate. As of 2021, Shawntia has traveled to Aruba, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, India, Italy, Ireland, Japan, London, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and several states in the United States of America. Learn more about Shawntia and her professional experiences at www.shawntia.com

Dawn H. Wooten

(she/her/hers)

Dawn has 15+ years of progressive experience working in international education administration. Access, equity, and diversity shaped her educational career as a first-gen college student. Developing win-win partnerships comes from years of volunteer, member, and committee service with well-respected organizations ACPA, FAIE, IASAS, IIE, NACAC, NAFSA, NASPA, NCDA, NODA, SHRM, and the Partners of the Americas.

Dawn’s educational journey began at the local community college, then on to a BA and MA in History, an MA in Nonprofit Management, and an Executive Education Diploma in Social Innovation. As a student, she studied abroad in France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and the Netherlands.

Before URep Abroad, she worked at NAFSA: Association of International Educators, The George Washington University, Florida Atlantic University, and several nonprofits.

Did you know?

URep is a double entendre meaning “you represent” and “underrepresented.”

 

This creates our slogan:

“You Represent the Underrepresented.” 

What is International Education?

International Education (IE) prepares leaders to be active and engaged participants in creating positive intercultural understanding, peace, and responsible world citizens. IE has many definitions, but the general criteria include: promoting cultural competency (intercultural communication, global awareness, language), increasing intercultural understanding and respect of differences, and encouraging tolerance through self-identity and social cohesion. It is important to note that definitions in IE reflect US usages and are not always clearly defined in international spaces

 

There are many career routes within IE with most organizations categorizing areas of focus into five communities based on NAFSA’s International Competencies. 

Education Abroad (EA)

Education and work in study abroad, including work, internships, volunteering, service-learning, and educational travel.

International Education Leadership (IEL)

The weaving of international, intercultural, and global dimensions into the philosophy of higher education.

International Enrollment Management (IEM)

Admissions, recruitment, enrollment management, credential evaluation, sponsored program administration, and overseas counseling.

Urep Abroad

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS)

Supports international students, visiting scholars, and international faculty with immigration advising and support services.

Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship (TLS)

Research that informs practice, and intercultural communication for IE professionals.

Justification

The pandemic has given organizations and leaders increased opportunity and motivation to collaborate and think creatively with cross-functional perspectives to solve the complex and long-standing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusivity concerns within international education (IE) and abroad programs. 

 

URep Abroad wants to inspire leaders and educators to support the underrepresented voices in international education as an avenue to increasing access and diversity abroad and within the IE field.

Lack of Diversity:


In the United States, and other countries, international education (professionally and academically) lacks diverse representation. The 2020 IIE Open Doors reported roughly 68% of U.S. study abroad students identified as White, whereas all diverse racial/ethnic populations combined represented approximately 31%. Disparities continue when comparing LGBTQ+ and disability identification data. Further, the lack of diverse representation among international educators’ parallels. Beyond the data, the lack of diversity perpetuates misconceptions and missed opportunities, contributing to the fear of being discriminated, left out, or invisible. URep Abroad advocates, resources, and equips students, organizations, and leaders with the tools needed to support and educate others to create a sense of belonging in the IE field.

Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: 


International and intercultural opportunities provide clear benefits to peace-building, career prospects, marketability, and community building. URep Abroad, a Black-owned company, challenges educators, organizations, and institutions to stand by their inclusive commitments. URep Abroad urges international educators to take action-oriented steps to further justice, equity, diversity, and inclusivity for the un- and underrepresented populations within IE.

 

URep Abroad offers a supportive and affirming space for resources and professional opportunities to guide organizations in supporting un- and underrepresented IE communities. We applaud and showcase organizations that demonstrate their commitment to diversifying IE thought to action and transparency.