Mary Beth Haselfeld’s favorite college experience didn’t take place on campus; it occurred during the semester she spent in Costa Rica, living with a host family and falling in love with Latin American culture. When she returned to Providence College in Rhode Island after her time abroad, she decided to pursue a career in international education.
That’s how Mary Beth came to be the Assistant Director for Off-Campus Study here at CMC, the friend and mentor adeptly guiding students through the study abroad experience. “I got into the field because I think international education is the only way to understand social justice issues that are facing the world,” she said. She stresses that the importance of the abroad experience cannot be overstated, saying, “You can read about it and you can study it, but until you really see it, it’s pretty impossible to truly understand those issues.”
After her initial trip to Latin America, Mary Beth began to travel more frequently, visiting Ecuador, Italy, and the Great Wall in China. She also began to photograph and capture her travels on film. Yet, while she enjoys exploring different places, she asserts that exposure to different cultures through travel is different than actually studying or living abroad. She explains, “When you live with a family, you really get to know what life is like in that country, not just see it like a snapshot.”
Working at a small school like CMC allows her to really focus on individual students, which is something she treasures. She notes that one of the most exciting parts of her job is finding programs that perfectly match the goals of each student.
“Getting to see every aspect of the study abroad process is by far my favorite part because I get to work with students while they’re trying to pick a program, talk to them while they’re abroad, and see what kinds of changes they experienced after they come back,” she said. “A lot of students come back and say they understand themselves better.”
Mary Beth grew up in Olympia, Washington, where she returned after college to complete her master’s in Public Administration at Seattle University before moving to Los Angeles in late 2014. Mary Beth and her husband are “big outdoors people,” frequently going on hikes and playing water sports. She also has an infant and family portrait photography company in addition to her work here at CMC.
Stop by the Study Abroad Office to chat with Mary Beth or find out how study abroad can suit you!