Group of four hikers with backpacks walks in mountains at sunset


by Sally Fay

How best to deliver a meaningful educational experience is always top of mind for Baruch College’s leadership, administrators, and faculty, whose dedication makes the Baruch campus a place of opportunity and exploration. But a wealth of opportunity also exists outside the College’s geographic boundaries.

Helping Baruch students to connect to impactful educational opportunities in the wider world is a primary function of the College’s Study Abroad Office. “Study abroad is its own unique type of experiential learning,” says Dr. Richard Mitten, PhD, the director of the office whose dedicated staff supports students representing all of the College’s three schools.

The office came into existence by virtue of an endowment from the late benefactor George Weissman (’39, LLD-Hon. ’82), which in 1994 established the Weissman Center for International Business. Tasked with implementation of a study abroad program as part of its purview, the center hired Dr. Mitten in 2004 to head up a dedicated study abroad office.


Far from being a leisure excursion, study abroad carries with it an expectation of good academic performance. “We try to put study abroad on students’ radar at orientation to give them every possible opportunity to fit in a course taken abroad in a way that contributes to fulfillment of their degree program requirements,” explains Mitten.

Study Abroad staff members offer expert support, helping students choose a program that meets their needs and goals and assisting them throughout the application process and beyond. “The model we use for our study abroad offerings is that they be cost effective, of high educational quality, and academically and culturally immersive,” Mitten says.

Having himself spent more than two decades living, studying, and working in Europe, Mitten is passionate about the experiential impact of studying abroad. “Students at Baruch are obviously ethnically diverse but, generally speaking, they’ve lived within an American culture and all that that entails, and they interact based on that commonality,” he notes. Academically, he adds, students’ horizons are automatically broadened as they experience a classroom environment with perspectives they wouldn’t have encountered at home. “And if it’s an advanced-level course, a student could very likely come away with valuable global insights into how things work differently in a specific business sector,” he adds.


After the global disruptions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the study abroad program had its highest enrollment ever in fall 2022, with 102 students enrolled in programs at 23 institutions representing 16 countries. And the program appears poised for continued high enrollment in its full semester offerings. This fall 96 Baruch students were enrolled in semester-long study abroad opportunities, and September’s annual study abroad fair was the biggest ever, attracting more than 500 students. “The response was exhilarating!” says Mitten. “Based on that level of interest, we anticipate a bumper crop of applications for upcoming sessions.”

Mitten acknowledges not all students are able to incorporate study abroad into their curriculum. But that doesn’t dampen his determination to increase access to cross-cultural experiential learning through program innovations. “The promise of virtual communication media is enormous,” he says. “Opportunities abound for everything from routine process improvements, to co-teaching initiatives with partner institutions, to enabling students to work on projects with students from non-U.S. schools before or, in some circumstances, in lieu of traveling there.”

For Study Abroad staff, the bottom line is learning outcomes: the knowledge, skills, and attitudes the students acquire when they engage with a new culture all have the potential to have a profound academic and societal impact. “Equity is in large part about access,” says Mitten. “By helping students experience the world beyond their local environs, we’re better positioning them to succeed in the 21st-century job market; it’s another potential spur to mobility. And everybody can benefit from that.”

A World of Potential

Program participants share how their study abroad experience has shaped their perspectives.

Syed Sherazi (’23)

Studied Abroad: Charles III University of Madrid, Fall 2022

“We take a lot of things for granted when we live in the comfort of the bubble we’ve made for ourselves,” says Syed Sherazi, an international business major who minored in finance and Spanish. Since spending a semester abroad, he says he sees “a shift in how I act, think, and feel… Studying abroad pushed me out of my comfort zone and taught me humility, resourcefulness, flexibility, and self-awareness. Simply put, it taught me about who I am and about how to live my life to its fullest while preparing for a successful future.”

Gloria Nyaega (MBA ’19)

Studied Abroad: Jean Moulin University, Lyon, January 2018

Gloria Nyaega calls studying in Lyon the highlight of her MBA. “The program wasn’t just about our studies; it also provided a window on various aspects of Lyonnais life and French culture,” says the now-consultant with the globally focused Boston Consulting Group. She also notes the practical business perspective gained from a visit to a Renault manufacturing plant (“I think about it every time I see a Renault car,” she says). “Study abroad provided me with a valuable life lesson on the importance of seeking out immersive interactions.”

Fanny Zheng (’23)

Studied Abroad: Waseda University, Tokyo, Fall 2022

An actuarial science major, Fanny Zheng credits her study abroad experience with giving her a deep appreciation for the power of cultural immersion, “a characteristic that is priceless in today’s interconnected world,” she says. She adds that unique cultural opportunities, including a trip to Mt. Fuji, “taught me things about the world that went beyond classroom learning and helped me develop a global perspective and cross-cultural communication capabilities. My newfound knowledge and cultural awareness will undoubtedly enhance my ability to adapt and thrive in an increasingly globalized workforce.”

Leave a Reply