He was nervous in a big, unfamiliar city, trying to make his way to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand during a study abroad program for his doctoral degree. It was at that moment of uncertainty Eric Raider says he discovered his potential.
“By allowing myself to be vulnerable, I learned what I was capable of,” explained Raider, who is the associate director of student engagement for the Kelley School of Business at IUPUI. “I always use my experience as an example for students when they come in to discuss study abroad programs. You’re going to be vulnerable – and you need to be vulnerable at some point. That’s when you’re going to learn more about yourself: what you can and can’t do. You’ll realize your limitations, but more than that, you’ll realize your true potential.”
Raider went to the University of Indianapolis for his undergraduate degree and worked there for a couple years before coming to work as an advisor at the Kelley School in 2008.
“Maureen Kinney, the assistant Undergraduate Program director at the time, encouraged her staff to find what it is they’re truly passionate about,” explained Raider. “If it wasn’t included in your job description, she encouraged you to find a way to add it. I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but it wasn’t until my study abroad program to Thailand that I realized my true passion was in study abroad – working with faculty, students and staff to create programs and study abroad experiences to benefit everyone.”
Raider says his biggest regret as an undergrad was that he never studied abroad. When he received an email about a program for his doctoral program in higher education and student affairs, he knew he had to do it.
“It was a life-changing experience for me,” said Raider. “I saved up all my vacation time for the trip. I ended up being the only person in my group traveling to Chulalongkorn University every day, and that was what created those uncertain moments for me in a big city, trying to find my way there. Because I was by myself, I learned so much about the culture, about the people and about the country.”
“I always tell students: The moments you feel the most uncomfortable are when you realize what you can do.”
Raider says he got back from his trip and started working with faculty interested in creating study abroad programs for students. He also works with student organizations.
Since then, the Kelley study abroad programs at IUPUI have grown tremendously. For the 2016-2017 school year, 80 Kelley Indianapolis students studied abroad. Raider says during the 2015-2016 school year, Kelley Indianapolis sent the most students abroad from all IUPUI schools.
“It takes a village to develop a program, including faculty, students and staff,” said Raider. “Faculty have made an effort to help students understand that study abroad is not just a class – it’s an experience. And that experience should be included on their résumés.”
Raider says he enjoys working with faculty on these study abroad programs. The topic for his dissertation will be the first-time faculty’s experience in designing and teaching a study abroad course.
As far as advice he has for students, Raider says: If you want to do something, just ask.
“When it came to studying abroad as an undergraduate, I just assumed I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know who to ask or what to ask, and my advice to students now is never assume the answer is no. Had I asked somebody, I probably would have learned the answer was yes.”