Pathways to Leadership

Ten international education leaders on campuses across the United States share their stories about becoming a leader.
"My career path has been not linear," says Kalpen Trivedi, echoing the experiences of many leaders in the field of international education.
Phil Manzano

A mix of serendipity and strategy. A little unorthodox. Varied. Unique. Not linear. Unexpected. Circuitous and unplanned. An accidental discovery.

This was how several leaders in international education described their pathway to leadership in the field. As the number of international students at U.S. universities and colleges swelled in the past 20 years, so did the number of leaders who were just as likely to train, teach, and conduct research as they are to drive globalization in senior administrative roles.

Because there is not a traditional, one-size-fits-all pathway, many leaders in international education made their own trail. Through professional organizations, including NAFSA, they built networks to support and learn from one another, brainstorm solutions, and compare notes. Many leaders say they are leaning on these networks during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, which overwhelmed hospitals and morgues, upended travel and school schedules, reduced resources and supplies, and left countries with ravaged health systems and economies.

International Educator asked 10 international education leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds and contexts about how they got their start in international education, important leadership qualities, and skills leaders need to navigate a post-COVID-19 landscape. They share a great love for the field and find deep meaning in work that at its core involves building bridges among different cultures, furthering intellectual pursuits, and even designing systems and structures to fight the next pandemic.

Listen to more from the leaders interviewed here on the January 2020 episode of the International Educator podcast. This episode is sponsored by Education in Ireland

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