Dr. Annmarie Kent-Willette: A ‘passionate advocate for quality study abroad programs’

Q&A: Conversations with a professor



Dr. Willette with students Sylvia Dean and Sara Ann Wicks during study abroad in Sorrento, Italy.

Natalie Williams

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— Dr. Annmarie Kent-Willette is a professor of communications at Jacksonville University. She also serves at the executive director of global teaching and learning, making her a tenured professor at JU, as well as in Sorrento, Italy. She has lead study abroad programs for more than a decade and a half.

In the following section, Willette shares her experiences as a study abroad expert and and explains the benefits of such programs.

NW: What is something you’re passionate about as a professor?

AW: I am a passionate advocate for quality study abroad programs. Time and again, I witness the transformation that takes place when a college student steps out of the familiar and into the unknown.

NW: How did you develop an interest in global studies?

AW: As a small child, my beloved Aunt Margaret hosted international students. I have vivid grade school memories of cool college girls telling fascinating stories about far-away places.

NW: What is your advice to a student considering to study abroad?

AW: I recommend students talk to other students that have participated in study abroad. You’ll hear how it changes the way they see the world.

NW: What’s a typical day like for a student going into the Experiential Learning program in Sorrento, Italy?

AW: A typical summer day would include taking two classes in the classroom from 9am to 1 p.m. One day a week we do a field study excursion that takes students to places like Pompeii, Amalfi, and Capri. Students fill their free time cooking, hiking, swimming, just enjoying the Italian lifestyle in one of the most beautiful areas of the world. Weekends are free time and many students explore other areas of the country on their own.

NW: How can studying abroad benefit students?

AW: My students have used their time abroad to produce award winning projects honored by the Florida Chapter of the Associated Press and the National Council for Undergraduate Research. It brings to life the education you’ve studied for decades and changes how you understand your place in the world. When done right, study abroad has the power to promote peace, replacing fear of the unknown with understanding, illuminating shared values, and cultivating respect for differences. Study abroad affords students the opportunity to experience engaged learning while increasing knowledge through understanding.