Get to know International Programs' Amy Brewster


A​my Brewster, International Programs' constituent relations manager, feels fortunate to have tangible items from her great-grandparents, including quilts made by several great-grandmothers. Photo by Tim Schoon.

By Lois Gray, Iowa Now

What do you do here? 

In August, I was fortunate enough to start working in International Programs as the assistant director of the Communications and Relations unit.

This talented group of people supports the work of International Programs in a number of ways, including outreach through the WorldCanvass program and K–12 initiatives, managing the IP website, planning events such as the Provost’s Global Forum, and hosting delegation visits from across the globe.

My role will include leading an intercollegiate-relations initiative aimed at building International Programs’ relationships with colleges and units across campus. I’ll also be involved in a campus-wide committee focusing on engaging international alumni.

Other duties will include teaching the "International at Iowa" online course for new international undergraduate students and strengthening communication and relationships within the multi-faceted IP organization.

Prior to this, I worked as director of global experiences and academic adviser in the UI College of Engineering.

What do you enjoy most about working in a higher education setting?

I appreciate working on a beautiful college campus, surrounded by engaged individuals, where so much of our work is about possibility—whether it is students dreaming about studying abroad, faculty members looking for answers to questions, or Iowans wanting to continue learning through engagement with the university.

Take us through your most memorable day at the university.

It is difficult to choose! A recent memorable day included a brainstorming session for the Provost’s Global Forum, an annual event that brings in national and international speakers related to a certain topic.

IP communications and relations staff members met with Nathan Miller, from the College of Law and the UI Center for Human Rights, to learn more about the content of the conference, as well as to generate ideas about how to engage the community.

An exciting aspect of the conference is that part of it will be held in Iowa City and another part in Des Moines. To take advantage of this expanded reach, we hope to take our WorldCanvass event tied to the forum on the road to Des Moines.

It is wonderful and exciting to be surrounded by creative colleagues who turn ideas into action! Another memorable experience was participating in a Fulbright International Exchange  Administrators Seminar in Germany.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken—and did it pay off?

A few years after college, I left a job in the private sector to join the Peace Corps as a volunteer in Bulgaria. It was scary to leave the security of a career path and paycheck, but my fascination with the Peace Corps and interest in the wider world outweighed those concerns.

Yes, it definitely paid off. I grew as a person, gained confidence, met wonderful people, traveled to new and interesting places, and had the unexpected benefit of meeting my husband—he was a volunteer too.

If you could spend a day with anyone, from any era, who would it be and why?

Well, I have been working on a family history project to learn about my ancestors. I like to imagine what life would have been like for my great-grandparents, who were born and lived all of their lives in Iowa.

It would be so interesting to learn more about the world they experienced. I’m very lucky to have tangible pieces from some of them.

I have fairy lilies from my Great-Grandma Covington’s garden, a newspaper clipping of an advertisement for my Great-Grandpa Primus’s bicycle shop, quilts made by several great-grandmothers, and the oak table in my kitchen was built by my Great-Grandpa De Jong.

If you could have a song written about you, who would perform it, and what would it be called?

Since I returned to Iowa City after being away for 18 years, maybe something like “Returned Home” by Olivia Newton-John.

Why Olivia Newton-John? Grease is the first movie I remember seeing, and I thought Olivia Newton-John was pretty fantastic. My best friend, Michelle, and I would rollerskate in her family’s basement and sing our hearts out to the Grease soundtrack.

If you could get rid of one invention in the world, what would you choose? Why?

With many things, it’s not necessarily the invention itself that should go away, but the misuse of that invention.

Name five of your favorite things.

  • The list would be incomplete without mentioning my husband, Josh, and my family!
  • The exuberant greeting I get every single day from my dogs when I get home from work—whether I deserve it or not.
  •  Family vacations—a few years ago we returned to a northern-Minnesota resort we used to visit every summer when I was a kid. It was fun to go back as adults and see my niece and nephew enjoy swimming, fishing, boating, and s’mores by the campfire. 
  • Take-out food on a Friday night from Masala or Thai Spice 
  • Summertime. I love warm weather and Jeep rides with the top off!

The rundown:

Department: International Programs
Job: Constituent Relations Manager
Number of years at the university: two
Family: Husband, Josh; dogs, Rosie & River
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Alma Mater: University of Iowa (undergraduate) and University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (graduate)

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