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Creating an international careers pipeline for community college students

Convincing community college students, and their families, that there are viable career options for global studies majors is crucial to creating (and sustaining) viable programs to internationalize our community college curriculum at all levels.

In conjunction with my work through the Stanford Global Educators Network (GEN), I recently presented a talk on “Creating a Humanities-to-International-Careers Pipeline for Community College Students” at the annual Mellon Humanities Faculty Symposium at the University of San Francisco in April 2023. This symposium brings together community college faculty from across Northern California in conjunction with USF Humanities professors. The event included a panel of current USF transfer students hailing from community colleges statewide. As Humanities Mellon Scholars, these students are financially supported and guided throughout their transfer journey from the community college level until their last two years as undergraduates at USF.

My presentation highlighted two well-established national platforms that are designed to introduce students to international career fields.  But innovative programs like these cannot succeed without the knowledge and enthusiastic participation of community college humanities educators everywhere – just like you!

The first platform is Global Community College Transfers (GCCT), a non-profit co-founded by a team of community college transfer students, including Nick Shafer, a Foothill Community College student who is currently studying as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University. The network is designed to provide community college students access to study abroad fellowships and knowledge about careers in foreign affairs. Crucially, the network also pairs current community college students with former students already working in high-level academic and diplomatic careers worldwide. As ongoing mentors, they provide current community college students from first-gen families with inspiration, support, and career guidance.

The second opportunity I highlighted is Stanford’s annual Global Perspectives, Global Careers: Stanford Fair for Community College Students, a free event open to community students nationwide via Zoom each spring. Featuring presentations by Stanford faculty and students, the fair showcases the various career paths available to students who study in international humanities and social science fields.

Finally, I rounded out my USF presentation by highlighting yet another successful outreach program co-founded by Joubin Afshar, a student at Foothill College called PreMedCC. Although focused primarily on STEM students, PreMedCC is a student-run, non-profit organization that sponsors online webinars attended by thousands of community college students each month.  Among their most popular webinars include a talk by Stanford Dean of Admissions Richard H. Shaw and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, a former Foothill College student. Other popular webinars focus more specifically on international careers content, such as a recent talk titled, “Developing mRNA for Therapy a COVID-19 Vaccine: The Story of An Immigrant,” featuring Katalin Karikó, who co-discovered the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Real world role models, career mentors, and free programs like these might hold the key to guiding your own community college students toward satisfying, careers in a wide array of international fields!