May 15, 2024

New Buckeyes Network Abroad program connects students and international alumni

International alumni in London

“I felt a strong connection and sense of pride in being a Buckeye,” said Debora Ghebrehiwot, a biology pre-med student who traveled to London over spring break on the new Buckeyes Network Abroad program. Ghebrehiwot and her cohort toured London, taking traditional afternoon tea at Great Scotland Yard Hotel, getting an inside look at Westminster Abbey and meeting Ohio State alumni who are living and working in London.

“The Buckeyes Network Abroad program was a pilot program in which 15 arts and sciences students took a spring course focused on career development and then traveled to London over spring break to network with alumni, do career exploration related activities and get all the cultural, personal and educational benefits of a typical study abroad trip,” explained Lindsey Chamberlain, one of the program leaders and assistant dean of academic enrichment for the College of Arts and Sciences. The college supported the students financially, so there was no cost to them.

The alumni were excited to meet with the students and share how their careers have shaped up after an Ohio State education while imparting a bit of wisdom for the students’ road ahead. Alumni Samantha Jinks ’12, Danielle Cortez ’19 Law, Doug Loewe ’85 and Natasha Anderson ‘16 sat on a panel discussion, fielding questions from the students about their careers and education. The panel members have gone on to successful careers in their respective fields, ranging from data analytics to journalism. Jinks shared that she was “grateful for the opportunity to sit on this panel and share insights on living abroad with my fellow alumni. Engaging with such a dynamic audience reminded me of the invaluable growth that comes from stepping outside comfort zones.”

“Meeting alumni in London highlighted one thing in particular—you are a Buckeye for life,” said Apostol Kule, a biochemistry major. “My biggest takeaway from the trip was that studying at Ohio State equips you with skills that transcend boundaries,” said Kule. First-year biology major Yeshiyuan Xiong also found meeting alumni to be a valuable experience. “They are all so nice,” she said. Xiong felt inspired to “keep doing things that you are passionate about” thanks to the program.

“This was an extremely transformative trip for all of them—regardless of their background with international travel,” reflected Chamberlain. “It was also incredible because the students were able to form real connections with Buckeye alumni in London. We had a reception at one’s home, visited several workplaces, had an alumni panel and participated in a networking dinner,” with the Alumni Club of London.

“Each of the interactions with the alumni was meaningful, and many students have built and maintained professional relationships with them,” she said. “The alumni also seemed to greatly enjoy the interactions. Most shared the visits on their professional social media outlets, and all want to remain involved in future programs.”

The Office of International Affairs and the College of Arts and Sciences will be offering this unique program again in 2025. According to Chamberlain, “we hope to build the program to involve more students, alumni and locations in the future.”