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Cedar Crest College Receives NAFSA’s 2023 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award

Carmen Twillie Ambar Sophomore Expedition recognized with prestigious award for campus internationalization.

Students on the Sophomore Expedition

February 15, 2023

Cedar Crest College is one of the three institutions selected to receive NAFSA’s 2023 Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Award for Campus Internationalization. NAFSA, the world’s leading association of international educators, awards this recognition to a specific program or initiative that contributes to internationalization on campus, and Cedar Crest College has been chosen for its Carmen Twillie Ambar Sophomore Expedition

“This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of Director of Global Initiatives Kelly Hall, the Office of Global Initiatives and International Programs, and all the faculty, staff, and students who have made the Sophomore Expedition such a successful and transformative experience for our students,” says Cedar Crest College President Elizabeth Meade, PhD.

The Senator Paul Simon Spotlight Awards, named after the late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, celebrate outstanding innovation and achievement in campus internationalization. NAFSA defines internationalization as a conscious effort to integrate and infuse international, intercultural, and global dimensions into the education of our students. 

As an award recipient, Cedar Crest College will be prominently featured in the NAFSA report, "Internationalizing the Campus 2023: Profiles of Success at Colleges and Universities," which will be published online in the fall of 2023.

The Sophomore Expedition is named in honor of Carmen Twillie Ambar, Cedar Crest College’s 13th president, who believed that every student should have the opportunity to study abroad, regardless of their financial situation. The Expedition offers each full-time, traditional student a guaranteed international experience in the spring of their sophomore year, with nearly all costs covered by the College.

This one-of-a-kind program provides students with a life-changing experience that they will never forget. To date, Cedar Crest has completed five Expeditions to four continents. Students will be traveling to Rome, Italy this spring and to Dublin, Ireland in 2024.

“The Sophomore Expedition is what drew me to Cedar Crest,” says Kelly Hall, Ph.D., director of global initiatives at Cedar Crest. 

“As the director, I enjoy planning events and meals on each trip where our students experience life as locals. On our most recent Expedition to Marrakech, Morocco, the students were nervous about eating dinner at the food stalls in the main square, not quite sure what the food choices or protocol would be. Leaders showed them how it was done, and at the end of the evening, the students said they felt confident to come back the next night and do it on their own. That’s what I call ‘Mission Accomplished.’”

The percentage of all college students who study abroad in Pennsylvania averages 1.5 percent. But by the time the Class of 2023 completed their Expedition to Costa Rica in 2021, 68 percent of Cedar Crest College undergraduates had studied abroad.