New assistant director of study abroad brings unique perspective to UWP
PLATTEVILLE-Raised in a culture of Beatles, royal families and fish and chips, British born and former international student Steve Prag brings a unique perspective to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville study abroad programs.
As the new assistant director of study abroad programs at UWP, Prag is responsible for developing, managing and promoting the many programs offered through study abroad, advising UWP students who are considering studying abroad, advising students from abroad who come to UWP and other general assistance to the study abroad programs.
Prag's English background and extensive credentials made him an excellent candidate for the position at UWP. Born in Luxembourg but raised in London, Prag received a degree in modern studies with an emphasis in international relations and history from Coventry Polytechnic in England. He then enrolled at the University of Montana in Missoula. As an international student at the University of Montana, he received a master's degree in public administration and met his wife, Tomi, who was also an international student.
"My experience as an international student was very significant in my life," Prag said. "I met my wife, who is from Japan, at the international student office in Missoula, and we were married in her host family's backyard. My initial exposure to other cultures was as an international student and through my cross-cultural marriage."
After receiving his master's degree from the University of Montana, Prag's interests and experience with international studies continued, but with Prag on the other side of the international student program.
"I did additional graduate work in East Asian studies at the University of Iowa in Iowa City and was a graduate assistant of international programs at the University of Iowa," Prag said. "My work with the international programs made me realize how fascinated I was with international studies and programs. This was the my first involvement with the administrative aspect of international studies and I found it to be very rewarding."
Following his time in Iowa City, Prag accepted a position with the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, where he coordinated financial aid for study abroad students. After two years, he was promoted to the position of international programs coordinator, a job in which his duties included coordinating orientation programs, advising the international student council and developing and managing study abroad programs. He also developed the United Kingdom exchange program, which was comprised of exchange partnerships with seven British universities. His experience with study abroad programs did not stop there, however.
"From 1996-2001, I was also an advocate for international education at the national level, serving as vice-chair and chair of the Study Abroad Financial Aid Working Group," Prag said. "The mission of the group was twofold - to lobby Congress and the U.S. Department of Education for statutory and regulartory changes to facilitate and expand the use of federal student aid funds for overseas study and to provide financial aid education and training resources to campus study abroad administrators."
Prior to coming to UWP, Prag was the director of study abroad at Portland Community College in Portland, Ore. In Portland, Prag directed the activities of the Oregon International Exchange Consortium for Study Abroad. When the program ended, Prag accepted the position at UWP. His wife, who is currently a professor of bio-statistics at the Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland, and his two children Emily and Timothy have remained in Portland.
"Because my field is so specialized, it's our hope that Tomi will be able to find a position within a closer proximity to Platteville," Prag said. "But the atmosphere here at UWP is very positive and the staff have been very welcoming. So far, I think things are going great."
As the new assistant director of study abroad programs at UWP, Prag said his main goal is to get more students to take advantage of the study abroad programs.
"I want to make sure our students know what opportunities for study abroad are out there," Prag said. "Studying abroad is such a life-changing experience. Students return with a new appreciation of the richness and diversity of our world. They learn cross-cultural communication skills and enhance their marketability. Studying abroad truly is an invaluable experience."