Success Story: Southwestern University

Via Travel gives Southwestern’s Monya Lemery “peace of mind”

Monya Lemery, Director of Study Abroad and International Student Services at Southwestern University.

Monya Lemery knew when she became director of study abroad and international student services at Southwestern University in January 2020 that she wasn’t going to have the in-house software system she had grown accustomed to during her 10-year tenure at the University of Texas at Austin. What she didn’t anticipate was that she would be using a largely paper-based system at Southwestern.

“We had paper folders with printed-out applications,” Monya says. “It took me back to the 1990s.”

Monya’s first order of business at the Georgetown, Texas, university was to secure a software system. She knew her office needed to find an intuitive system that would be easy for administrators and students alike to use—and that the office could manage without a lot of tech support.

After a Via demo, Monya and her colleagues agreed that Via best met their needs—and it was affordable. Southwestern signed a contract with Via in Summer 2021 and began using the SaaS platform that fall.

“We’re amazed at what Via can do,” she says. “It’s made it so much easier for us to have everything in one place. Via is easy. It’s intuitive. It’s smooth. It’s quick. And the customer service is very responsive, very helpful.”

Monya Calls Via Travel an “Amazing Product”

Elanna Hawkins studying abroad in Morocco (Fall 2021) on the SIT program. She also served as a Study Abroad Peer Mentor in Spring 2022 before graduating.

The other thing that Monya knew Southwestern needed was to have a system in place for risk and crisis management.

“There was a phone tree but that was about it,” she says.

The in-house software system at UT Austin had allowed the study abroad office staff to know where students were in the world—and to be able to contact them in an emergency. That was crucial in 2015 when suicide bombers attacked Paris. That event was top of mind when Monya pushed to not only purchase Via Global, Via’s flagship study abroad software, but also Via Travel, its travel risk management software. The pandemic also helped university leadership to see the importance of having a robust risk management system in place.

“Via Travel is an amazing product to be able to see who’s currently abroad and where they are and to be able to message them through Safecheck (SMS texts),” Monya says. “It gives me peace of mind.”

Passion for Study Abroad Sparked in High School

Monya can trace her passion for global experiences to her last year of high school, when she spent a year in Belgium as an exchange student.

“I loved that experience,” she says. “It was amazing. I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ I wanted to travel.”

She began looking for colleges that had strong study abroad programs and chose Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, not far from where she grew up. She didn’t let being a high financial-need student stop her from participating in a faculty-led program to Hungary.

When she returned to Lewis and Clark after Hungary, Monya took a job on campus in the international student office. That experience, she says, “really opened up my eyes to the possibility of working at a college. Working with the international students was so fascinating to me. I loved learning about their cultures.”

SU study abroad students in Edinburg (Fall 2019).

She further paved the way to an IE career by earning a master’s degree in international and intercultural management from the School for International Training in Vermont. Monya first worked as an international student advocate at Virginia Wesleyan College in the late 1990s. She had other stops along the way before spending nearly a decade at UT Austin. Monya worked as a program manager at Texas International Education Consortium before taking on her current role at Southwestern.

She enjoys sharing the benefits of global travel with Southwestern students, the majority of whom are from Texas. Many haven’t traveled outside of the state—or the country.

“I tell students all the time that, even if you’re planning to get a job in Texas, you’re going to be working with people who are different than you,” Monya says. “If you’re a teacher, you’re going to have students and parents who are from different cultures than you. If you’re in the healthcare field, you’re going to have patients who are from different cultures than you. If you’re in business, you’re going to have colleagues and clients in different countries. You have to have the skills to work in a cross-cultural environment and what better way to get some of those skills than to study abroad during college?”

Let’s Connect

Like Monya Lemery at Southwestern 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.


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