A Fond Farewell to a Founder

As some may know, Dr. Jessica Mulvihill, co-founder of Study Abroad Day, has transitioned into the K-12 teaching world, and has formally moved on from her involvement in Study Abroad Day. As the Study Abroad Day committee is forming and growing, we felt it important to recognize Jessica for her efforts and enthusiasm for making this day a reality. Please see the below written by Erin Kunert, co-founder, in appreciation of all she has done that has allowed this dream to come true.

You have likely read the story of how Study Abroad Day started. What you may not know, is the countless zoom meetings, phone calls, text messages, and all of the outreach she and I conducted that went into getting this up and running. It was Jessica who pulled together a meeting at a NAFSA annual conference to get feedback and ideas from colleagues in the field who were willing to talk with us. It’s true that I had been thinking about something like this for a while, and Jessica had too, but it was the partnership and shared excitement to really do it that got it started and has made it into what it is today. I wouldn’t have had the courage to do this on my own, and we both went through periods of difficulty in our regular professional positions that drew our focus away, but when one of us was lacking bandwidth, the other took up the tasks to keep things moving, and ensured the momentum continued.

I will always remember the very first Study Abroad Day in February 2020. Initially, we really had no idea whether others would find this a worthwhile endeavor, and agreed that even if just the two of us celebrated on our campuses, that would be a wonderful thing. It certainly shocked us that it was far more than just the two of us. While we were miles and states away, we kept sending messages back and forth in complete awe at just how many around the world joined us as post after post came through Instagram of people sharing their photos, stories, and celebrations taking place across campuses and organizations. It seemed many were eager to take the brief time to call attention to why we do what we do and to the deeper meaning behind these experiences.

One thing I really appreciate is the care we took in creating our mission and vision. We knew we wanted something that was more than marketing and recruitment, that created a space for people who were used to keeping their memories in a shoebox in their closet to take them out, and remember and share. We were mindful of the challenges our colleagues were facing in the field, and wanted to create something they could take and make their own, rather than just add another draining item to their to-do list. We also wanted to curate ideas to inspire people. And I think we’ve done just that.

While Jessica may have moved on, Study Abroad Day will always be her legacy too, and something I hope she is just as proud of as I am.

Thank you, Jessica. I know I’ve said it many times before, but allow me to say it one more time, publicly, that I could not have done it without you. Thank you for doing it with me, and also for being a true friend. I appreciate all of the time and energy you put in, and promise to always keep our original intentions and mission at the forefront of Study Abroad Day. Wishing you all the best.


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