The University of Iowa

Q&A with Nicholas Stroup, Global Student Award winner

October 20th, 2020
Photo of Nicholas Stroup

Nicholas Stroup

Nicholas Stroup is a recipient of the 2020 Global Student Award, which recognizes current University of Iowa students who are emerging leaders deeply engaged in international education on campus or abroad. The award is given to two students annually—one to a student who has made significant efforts toward campus internationalization, and another to a student who is furthering globalization through their international research or study abroad program. Nicholas Stroup is a PhD candidate in educational policy and leadership studies (higher education and student affairs). Learn more about Nicholas's engagement with international education below.

What experiences, organizations, or programs have you participated in that furthered your international education?

I have been deeply appreciative of the opportunities that Iowa has provided to further my international education. What started me on my international journey here was a Stanley Award for International Research that allowed me to travel to Kosovo in 2019 and interview PhD-seekers there about their desires to pursue doctoral education. This has deepened my appreciation for the Sister State relationship between Iowa and Kosovo and opened a lifelong research stream about higher education in the Western Balkans. Inspired by my time in Prishtina, I worked to build a digital map of undergraduate access to higher education in Kosovo in 2020. This work was kindly supported by the Graduate College and UI Library’s Digital Studio Summer Fellowship. Moving forward, this work will continue. In addition, it launched a research endeavor of cataloging accreditation decisions about Kosovo’s postsecondary institutions. My hope is that the map and catalog will be of use to Kosovo’s university leaders and educational policymakers who are navigating difficult systems of national and European accreditation. During 2019, I was able to travel to Norway as part of Dr. Cassie Barnhardt’s collaboration with the University of Oslo (UiO). While there, I worked with peers from UiO’s program on comparative research about how international and domestic graduate students in Norway and the U.S. fund their higher education pursuits and experience disability services on campus. We had intended to present on this work at the triennial Transatlantic Dialogues in Luxembourg in 2020, but this was canceled due to the global pandemic. Following this experience in Oslo, I began work with Dr. Barnhardt’s international research team, ultimately taking on a leadership role with the group in 2020. In this role, I have sustained active ties with our colleagues at the University of Oslo (UiO), maintained and contributed international higher education content to a collaborative virtual learning management portal, and worked on a variety of transnational research projects. These projects investigate topics such as how graduate students perceive their doctoral training to prepare them to work internationally, quantitative modeling about inbound study abroad in Kosovo, and advancing theoretical frameworks about why U.S. graduate students express resistance to international content. The newest project with Dr. Barnhardt’s team has emerged from a connection I made while in Kosovo with a scholar from North Macedonia. We are beginning work on two initiatives. The first is about understanding opportunities for the democratization of North Macedonian society through higher education. The second is about the internationalization of research methods in North Macedonian higher education curricula.

What is the most valuable thing that you have learned through your international education experiences?

Speaking broadly: Taking the time to listen deeply to people’s experiences is the only way to learn how to transform our world for the better. Speaking practically: Rock-Paper-Scissors transcends all borders.

If you had one message to pass on your fellow classmates about international education, what would it be?

Out LGBTQ scholars: each of us with the privilege to live in a society free from persecution must consider our responsibility to contribute to international human rights dialogue. There is a long way to go until all of us enjoy the liberty that some have finally come to know.

What are your future academic or career goals?

I hope to become a professor of higher education, either in the U.S. or abroad.

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