Stephanie Tilley - Kultural Kurator
She, Her, Hers
Ethnicity - Black
Occupation - International Education/ Program Coordinator
Place of Employment -
Prairie View A & M University
Years in the field:
What global experiences have you taken part in when you were a student and/or a professional?
When I was an undergraduate, I studied abroad for a semester in Costa Rica and that was my first time abroad. That experience shaped my worldview and my growth on various levels. It was during this time, that my innate hunger and appreciation for culture, connection and exploration were ignited! From there, I actively sought international experiences that were culturally immersive and enhanced my global consciousness; as a result, I have studied, worked and lived abroad. Including Costa Rica, I have spent significant time in Greece and South Africa which have been some of the most spiritually enriching and fulfilling moments of my life!
How has Global Education impacted you and your career choices?
My study abroad experience introduced me to Global Education, but my graduate program confirmed my desire to work in Global Education. From studying abroad and attending universities that were culturally rich, I understood the importance and the impact that Global Education had especially on students with my background. I was a lower income Black American student from inner city New Orleans; I come from humble beginnings. Global Education shaped how I saw the world and redefined how I view identity, privilege, access and opportunity....it changed and challenged me in the best ways possible. Therefore, I was determined to pursue a career in global education because I want others to experience the growth, the enlightenment and the liberation I felt.
What do you enjoy most about the work that you do in Global Education?
I enjoy the connection and the community that Global Education offers. This field allows me to connect with amazing students and assist them in one of the most life changing experiences they will ever have. It's truly a blessing to assist students in their global journey and connect with them more deeply during and after their time abroad. Furthermore, this field allows me to connect with like minded professionals who share my love and appreciation for culture, diversity, and travel. Through Global Education, I have made and found my community; this field is definitely where my people are! Within this field, there is a mutual appreciation for international travel and I'm thankful to be connected to a community that values the very experience that shaped who I am.
What challenges have you had to overcome as you work in Global Education?
One of the challenges I had to overcome in Global Education was entering the field as a professional; it was competitive getting my foot in the door. I applied to many jobs before gaining the global education experience that I have today. Before my current job at Prairie View, I worked as a server to make ends meet as I looked for jobs in Global Education. My job search within this field has been very humbling because I thought I had it in the bag as a Black American female with a masters degree and multiple study abroad experiences; I felt like a unicorn. I just knew I was it, but I quickly realized there were others who shared the same passion and experiences I did.
How has your cultural identity impacted your experience working in Global Education?
I am a proud Black woman. I am a proud New Orleanian. My ethnic and southern roots are the essence of my cultural identity. My cultural identity is warmth, light, community, respect and connection; it is these values that guide how I engage and do the work that I do!
How has seeing other people of color/diverse backgrounds in Global Education inspired you?
It is refreshing to see other people of color/ diverse background in our field. It inspires me to work harder for students in global education especially who share my story and my background. Furthermore, it encourages me to own who I am as I strengthen my knowledge and skillset in this field.
As a Kultural Kurator, what does culture mean to you?
Culture is the essence of our being. Culture is what defines us and what connects us.
Self care is so important as we live our lives and grow in our professions. How do you incorporate self care into your life?
Spiritual alignment and refreshment is the root of my self care. Tending to my spirit through prayer and solitude gives me balance, direction and strength. I incorporate self care through prayer and quiet moments in the morning, during my commute to and from work, and random moments in between.
What advice would you give a future Kultural Kurators as they think about working in this field?
Working in this field is a true calling and very fulfilling, but it's not easy. Therefore, remember your why for being in this field and know the importance of your voice and how to use it. Mostly importantly, have fun and enjoy the journey!
How can others follow you on social media?