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Portrait Gallery: Jason Kouba, director of Study Abroad

Jason KoubaJason Kouba, director of Study Abroad, arrived at UNT this July after serving as assistant director of Study Abroad at the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse for seven years. He has been to more than 40 countries, spanning six continents and looks forward to helping UNT students broaden their horizons by studying abroad.

What are your responsibilities as the director of Study Abroad at UNT?

As the Director of Study Abroad I am responsible for overseeing all of the options that UNT students have to study outside the US including faculty-led, affiliate, and exchange programs. I am also responsible for ensuring that the incoming exchange students coming to UNT for one or two semesters have an absolutely unforgettable experience. In other words I am tremendously lucky to have the ability to help change students’ lives!

What do you like best about your job? 

Most definitely working with students! Specifically though, I think the most rewarding part of my position is hearing the stories of students returning from abroad. I have had the tremendous privilege of hearing how an international experience has “changed my life” or “was the best thing I have ever done.” It is because of these students and these stories that I continue to be excited about my job each and every day.

What led you to pursue a career in study abroad? 

My degrees are in Spanish and higher education, and the reason I chose these fields was primarily because of my interest in people from backgrounds different from my own. I had always been very interested in Spanish language and culture, and pursuing my studies in this when I entered college and subsequently having the chance to study in Spain provided me with the chance to explore a different culture. Once I returned from my time abroad, I continued to realize what an amazing, life-changing experience this was, and I wanted to be able to encourage other students to have the same opportunity for growth.

What is your academic and professional background? 

I hold a bachelor’s in Spanish and a master’s in college student development and administration from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. I have also had the opportunity to study in Spain, and have worked in the field of international education for seven years, most recently as the assistant director for Study Abroad at UW-La Crosse.

What study abroad experience did you gain during your college years? 

While I was an undergraduate student I spent a semester in Seville, Spain, studying Spanish language and culture. I have also since traveled to more than 40 countries, and I have led two service learning programs to Jamaica for an alternative Spring Break program.

Where is your hometown and how did you make it down to Denton? 

I am originally from Onalaska, Wis., but have always considered Texas a second home. I lived in Austin, San Marcos and Dallas from 2000-2003, and have always wanted to return since leaving. When I learned that the director of Study Abroad at UNT position was open, I thought it was the perfect fit for me both professionally as well as personally.

Tell us about your family.

My family all lives in Wisconsin, with my parents in La Crosse; my older brother, sister-in-law and four nephews and one niece in Green Bay; and my younger brother in Madison.

What is your favorite travel destination and why? 

My absolute favorite travel destination is Mexico, without a doubt. I think that, perhaps, my initial love for Mexico came from the food, which I must say is the best part of being back in Texas! However the first time I traveled to Mexico for a vacation to Ixtapa when I was 18, I learned that the people of Mexico are what truly make it such a wonderful place. I have been lucky to visit not only the popular tourist destinations and frolic on the beaches, but also to see cities like Guadalajara, León and Xalapa. I haven’t been able to make it back to Mexico for a while, but I am really hoping to change that soon!

What is a place you haven’t been yet that you’d like to visit in the near future? 

The one place that I haven’t ever been but would absolutely love to go is Italy. It seems rather strange since I have traveled to Europe many times, but the occasion has never come up for me to visit Italy. I am really hoping that I can change that soon too!

What do you do in your free time? 

I enjoy spending time with my friends, visiting the Arts District in Dallas, attending theatre productions and traveling. I am always up for a trip, whether it be a flight overseas or a road trip to Louisiana.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

I am thrilled to be a part of UNT, and I look forward to every student coming in to the Study Abroad Office so that we can help them have an international experience.

- Lauren Frock, student assistant, URCM

It's not possible to know everyone on a big, busy campus. So InHouse periodically publishes Portrait Gallery features to help us learn about our colleagues and their contributions to the university's success. Send suggestions for Portrait Gallery subjects by email to InHouse with "Portrait Gallery" in the subject line.

Posted on: Tue 03 September 2013

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