“I’m absolutely thrilled with the outcome,” says Via’s CEO
When Via CEO Ann Oleson learned about Study Abroad Day, she knew Via needed to do all it could to support the celebration—and the organization.
“It ties directly to our mission: that global experiences change the world,” Oleson says.
Like Via, Study Abroad Day was created by international educators for the international education community. The grassroots movement started with Erin Kunert, former director of the Office of Global Education at Valparaiso University, and Jessica Mulvihill, director of education abroad at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
First offered in 2020, the annual celebration is held on the last Monday in February with this year’s day-long event set for Feb. 28. It’s up to institutions to decide how they want to celebrate, though ideas are offered on the studyabroadday.org website<.
Speaking of the organization’s website, that’s where Via saw an opportunity to help. Oleson asked co-founder Erin Kunert, now a director of student success at Academic Programs International, what was on the Study Abroad Day organization’s wish list. Kunert said they wanted to create awareness of the celebration through a new website.
“The website they had wasn’t doing a great job of telling the story of Study Abroad Day and it also wasn’t easy for them to manage,” Oleson says. “They were continually frustrated with the platform: the way it looked, the usability—everything.”
Enter Via’s UX/UI designer Chelsea Balderson. She embraced the challenge of transforming the Study Abroad Day website, including developing a new logo.
“They were really wanting a strong brand identity and presence online,” Balderson says. “They were great about putting up a website through the platform they had available to them, but they had a lot bigger dreams for their site.”
The first thing Balderson did was listen to their needs and desires. She then set to work building out website mockups. Kunert also snagged a succinct, easy-to-remember domain name: studyabroadday.org. Oleson and Balderson pulled in Via’s content team, which rewrote the entire website to better tell the organization’s story. Balderson added in social media engagement as well as improved graphics and photography.
“Within 60 days, the website went from an idea to what you see today,” Balderson says. “It’s a night-and-day difference. I love the way the new logo pairs well with their branding and the fact that the website has very organized pages that really direct the reader where to go.”
Oleson says she’s “absolutely thrilled with the outcome.”
“There were a bunch of different audiences for the website,” she says. “Chelsea’s expertise really lies in creating design that fosters and feeds information to people in a way that is best so I knew her experience in UX would be helpful. The way audiences can now access information is much more relevant.”
The website also now includes e-commerce: Study Abroad Day T-shirts for sale. Oleson connected the organization with Mike Draper, founder and owner of RAYGUN shirts, an Iowa-based company that created the fun Study Abroad Day T-shirts. (Interested? Order T-shirts by Feb. 11 to ensure delivery by Study Abroad Day!).
Side note: RAYGUN’s Draper met his wife while studying abroad and taking classes at the University of St Andrews, Scotland’s first university.
Via’s team will be sporting their Study Abroad Day T-shirts as part of the Feb. 28th celebration. They will also be learning how to make Spanish paella during a cooking class with Alexander Mathieu, Via’s backend software engineer who once worked as a professional chef.
“The value of Study Abroad Day is it’s a celebration of the work that people in international education do,” Oleson says. “It’s an opportunity to share experiences. That’s what life is, really, is a bunch of shared experiences.”
Balderson says Study Abroad Day also offers those who have studied abroad an opportunity to “talk about and celebrate their experiences—how it impacted them and to also inspire others to get involved and study abroad.”
Both Oleson and Balderson say they’re grateful to have had a hand in elevating and championing Study Abroad Day through the new-and-improved website.
“It’s that whole idea of giving back,” says Oleson. “Being able to be ambassadors for powering global experiences on a larger level than just Via is also huge. They’re trying to create a movement through education. I love supporting that movement.”
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 organizations empower global experiences. Reach out if you want to learn how Via can help lighten your workday.
Happy Study Abroad Day!