Campus Closeup: Susan Morgan
When Susan Morgan (International Programs) was in college, she studied abroad for a year in Japan. “It really changed my whole world outlook and my view of myself and what I can accomplish,” she said. “It was so different from anything I ever did before or asked myself to do.” This experience is what made her want to get into her current field of work.
Morgan attended Kalamazoo College and the University of Michigan, where she got a master's degree in Asian studies. When she moved to Marquette from Ann Arbor, she didn’t find a lot of use for her Japanese language or international studies skills. Just 10 years ago, the position of coordinator of the education abroad program came up at NMU and she took the job. “It’s been a pleasure to help the office and programs grow from where we were 10 years ago and where we’re going now,” she says of the program’s progress.
While international and cross-cultural studies are emerging as popular college and graduate-level majors across the country, Morgan said most people who work in her field are also motivated by their own study-abroad experiences in college or high school. “I think it takes a certain amount of international experience or language skill to do what I’m doing,” she said. “We’re also seeing a gradual emphasis on professionalization in our field now, whereas many people my age and older came in through experiences rather than formal education.”
The most interesting and exciting part of the job for Morgan is spending time with the students. “The joy is in talking to students and watching their enjoyment, and helping them plan a program that meets their needs the best. It’s also very enjoyable to see them when they come back, to see how they react after taking this kind of risk,” she said.
She likes to maintain a relationship with the students while they are studying abroad as well. She enjoys getting postcards and letters from the students, which are displayed on the wall in her office.
“All those qualities we hope a student will come back with happened for me: a sense of confidence, seeing myself as a risk-taker, managing well and being flexible, meeting new people and making new friendships way outside of my culture. It’s very hard to describe if a student hasn’t done it, but when a student comes back, they get it, and they’re ready to do it again or tell other people to do it.”
It’s obvious that Morgan likes to travel and see new places. She has been to 49 states and is “shooting for Hawaii.” In her spare time, Morgan enjoys ice fishing, which comes as a surprise to many people who meet her. “A lot of people are floored by the fact that I purposely go outside in the sub-zero weather to fish,” she said with a smile. In addition to fishing, she sings with the Marquette Choral Society and enjoys spending time with her family. “Basically, I read, I fish and I ferry kids around,” she joked.