“It’s been dreamy,” Study Abroad Coordinator says of Transition to Via
Stacey Lang returned to her alma mater, Fort Hays State University (FHSU), to help centralize the university’s study abroad programs.
“Everything was kind of all over the place,” says Stacey, who was named the university’s study abroad coordinator in January 2018. “I became a one-person office that was trying to manage all of these different programs.”
By 2019, Stacey knew she needed to find solutions to help her manage FHSU’s study abroad programs and to get a better risk management system in place.
“COVID exacerbated all of the holes and gaps that we had,” she says.
Stacey began researching software systems and narrowed it down to two. After talking with her international education colleagues, “I knew Via was the way to go,” she says. Fort Hays leadership backed her decision.
Via Creates “One-Stop Shop” for Fort Hays
The study abroad office signed on with Via in August 2021 and by March 2022, Stacey was ready to do a soft launch.
“I spent more time creating workflows for students and faculty leaders than I did actually building the platform,” Stacey says. “The Via platform’s easy to build once you know what you want to put into it.”
Transitioning from a paper system to Via has been “dreamy, to say the least,” Stacey says. “It’s been great.”
With Via, Stacey has been able to achieve what FHSU wanted when it hired her: centralization of all things study abroad.
“Everything is in one place,” she says. “I used to have to dig through papers and I had multiple spreadsheets I was working from. Everything was hard copy. Via has saved me so much time. My workday is much less stressful. Via’s created a one-stop shop for me. I don’t have a million different locations for everything.”
Prior to Via, Stacey had to meet on-on-one with students to advise them on the right-fit program for them. With Via’s program-matching quiz, she can reach more students—sooner. “It’s way more efficient,” she says.
This summer, FHSU is offering its first faculty-led study abroad trips since COVID-19 hit in March 2020. The feedback so far has been “great” from faculty, she says.
“They love the features that Via offers,” she says. “And, like me, they like being able to have all of their forms digitized and in one place. It’s just as timesaving for them as it is for me.”
Via Knows International Education
It didn’t surprise Stacey to learn Via was built by international educators for international educators. That was apparent from the start, she says.
“When I watch Via’s training videos or I go to the Knowledge Base, it’s clear that Via understands what their clients need. Everything is so easy to follow and relevant. I’m a very tech-savvy person, but Via makes it easy for anyone.”
Stacey graduated from Fort Hays State University in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish with Secondary Education. She taught Spanish and English as a Second Language for about 20 years. Throughout her teaching career, she led study abroad trips with her students to Mexico, Spain, France, Italy, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, and Belize. She also worked in international admissions and host family placement before coming back to FHSU to head the study abroad office in 2018.
Stacey’s first study abroad trip was to Puebla, Mexico, as a FHSU undergraduate. That’s when her passion for study abroad began, she says.
“I always say my study abroad experience at Fort Hays changed my life forever,” she says. “Most of my students now say the same thing when they come home.”
Stacey Offers “Safe Place” to Share Study Abroad Experiences
Stacey recalls coming back to Kansas and having no one with whom to share her study abroad experience.
“I call it reverse culture shock,” she says. “I had such a difficult time articulating to my family and friends back home that I was a different person. It was very hard to reenter my previous life. I tell my students about this and prepare them for it. When they come back, I tell them they can talk with me. This is a safe place. I understand the real story.”
Her role at FHSU is a “wonderful fit” for her, she says.
“I love this position,” she says. “It allows me to be a little bit of an event planner, a little bit of an educator, a little bit of an advisor, a passionate traveler, and a worldly scholar. It’s just a wonderful culmination of everything I love to do.”
And Via, she says, is a perfect fit for Fort Hays State University. Her advice to her IE colleagues who are considering switching to Via from paper or other outdated systems: “It’s worth it.”
“The people at Via have lovely personalities,” she says. “They’re very knowledgeable and very professional. I feel like they’re my friends.”
Like Stacey Lang at Fort Hays State University, Via TRM believes global experiences will change our world. That’s why we created traveler relationship management and travel risk management software, which helps universities and study abroad program providers to empower global experiences. If you’re looking for a true education abroad partner, turn to Via TRM.