Education Abroad (EA)


Defining “Meaningful”: How Students Make Meaning out of their Global Experiences

Wednesday, November 13
2:15 PM - 3:30 PM
Location: Lombard/Camden

In this session, colleagues from Penn Abroad at the University of Pennsylvania will share trends and findings from data obtained through post-program evaluations, specifically as they relate to how Penn students define a global experience as "meaningful."  Comparisons will be drawn between first-generation and non-first-generation college students, as well as among program type (semester/year-long study abroad; short-term faculty led; summer internship/research).  In evaluating our ability to provide students with a meaningful experience abroad, the critical question to consider is: What constitutes a "meaningful" experience to students, and does this definition of "meaningful" change depending on whether or not the student is a first-generation student?  Using this case study from Penn, attendees will be inspired to review their existing programs to ensure that their available programs are meeting the needs, interests, and goals of the first-generation student audience.

Learning Objectives:

Jillian Cener

Global Internships Manager
University of PennsylvaniaOffice of Penn Global

Jillian Cener is the Global Internships Manager at Penn Abroad, managing all aspects of the Global Research & Internship Program. As an undergraduate, Jillian studied Italian Studies and K-12 education, and studied abroad in Italy. Jillian also earned her M.S.Ed. in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania. While getting her master’s degree, Jillian was a research assistant at the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), working on a partnership aimed at helping more students from MSIs study abroad.


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Melissa DiFrancesco

Senior Global Programs Manager
University of Pennsylvania Office of Penn Global

Melissa Jen DiFrancesco is the Senior Global Programs Manager, working with students who seek global opportunities in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa region. Melissa studied international relations and Chinese at the University of Southern California, and received her M.S. in International Affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology. In addition to volunteering and leading student groups overseas, Melissa previously studied abroad in Taipei, Taiwan and held an internship in Beijing, China.


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Defining “Meaningful”: How Students Make Meaning out of their Global Experiences

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