Staff Spotlight: Whitney Longnecker
Director - TTU Study Abroad
Whitney Longnecker, the new Director of Study Abroad for the Office of International Affairs, knew she wanted to make study abroad a part of her college experience at eighteen. Whitney grew up in Iowa and attended Central College in Pella, Iowa because of its strong study abroad program. Little did she know how much that decision would affect her career. As a business major at Central, Whitney studied and interned in both London and China. In London, she worked for an organization that helped connect small businesses with each other and in China, she worked for an English-language newspaper.
After college Whitney joined AmeriCorps and worked at a small business college in Iowa. She later returned to her alma mater to work in the Study Abroad Office. She then attended SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, and obtained her Master's in International Education. Part of her graduate work included an assistantship with Semester at Sea, a shipboard study abroad program. During her time at Semester at Sea, she sailed on two different study abroad voyages, one to Africa and Asia and the other to Northern Europe. While on these voyages she circumvented the globe, traveling nearly 31,000 nautical miles in 178 days to 20 different countries. Whitney then took a job for two years as a Study Abroad Advisor at Penn State before moving to Lubbock to continue her career as the Faculty-Led Program Administrator at Texas Tech. She was appointed as the new Director of Study Abroad in March.
What are some of your goals as the new Director for Study Abroad at Texas Tech?
“What I enjoy about being the Director of Study Abroad is having the opportunity to set the direction of the department. We have so much potential here at Texas Tech. We already send about 1,400 students abroad every year and the faculty-led programs have exploded in a way I don't think anyone could have predicted. With that being said, there is room for opportunity and growth. I'm excited about being able to play a larger part in that decision-making process.” Whitney says that one of the things that stands out about Texas Tech's study abroad efforts is the support from the faculty. The Texas Tech faculty is very involved with the Study Abroad Office. They understand what a positive impact studying in other countries has on the students. About 70-80% of the 1,400 Texas Tech students that study abroad each year participate in faculty-led programs.
How does your department encourage Texas Tech students to study abroad?
A common concern among students is that studying abroad is too expensive. Students at Texas Tech are also concerned about keeping “on track” with their degree programs. “We spend a lot of time talking about the true cost of a study abroad program. Many times, this is a perceived but not a true barrier. We partner closely with our Academic Advisors to see how study abroad programs can fit into a degree plan. We also work closely with the Financial Aid Office and the National and International Scholarship and Fellowships Office so students know about the financial resources and support available right here on campus. My goal is to have every student on campus feel that they can study abroad, and we are always working to build resources and make connections to support our students.”
What is the best advice you can give to a student who is considering studying abroad?
“I would say to plan ahead. We recommend planning about a year in advance. We are
here to guide students to pick a program that will meet their academic, personal and
professional goals. Students should start by visiting the Study Abroad table during
Red Raider Orientation – it's never too early to start talking about study abroad!
Additionally, during their first meeting with their Academic Advisor, the student
should talk about their desire to study abroad. It's important to start the conversation
early to ensure the student has the greatest number of opportunities from which to
“Students should also visit the Study Abroad Fair! This fall, the Fair will be held on Thursday, September 20 in the SUB Ballroom.”
What do you like most about your job?
“I am motivated by reflecting on my personal study abroad experiences and knowing that my work is focused on creating those kinds of opportunities for growth and change for the students at Texas Tech.”