ISA at 25: From Santiago to Director of University Relations, and Back Again

Each week we will be featuring an ISA staff member on ISA Today as part of our 25th Anniversary. This week we’re talking to Tyson Hanrahan, Regional Director of University Relations.

Tyson on a recent visit to the Dominican Republic.

What do you do here at ISA?

I work within the University Relations Department at ISA and manage a team of ISA University Relation Representatives. I personally work with and make campus visits to our US University partners in the states of Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming, attending study abroad fairs, conducting information session for students, faculty and staff, and organizing pre-departure and re-entry orientations. I am also the Online Advertising Manager at ISA.

Tell us a little bit about your background, and how you came to work for ISA as Regional Director?

I studied abroad with ISA in Guanajuato, Mexico, and during my final semester at the University of Oregon, I studied abroad with ISA again in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Knowing I was graduating after my program, I inquired with my Resident Directors abroad about positions with ISA. That was 7 years ago this August and, though the specifics of my responsibilities at ISA have changed in that time, I still very much enjoy working with students and our partner universities to send more students abroad.

Mingling with the locals in the Dominican Republic in 2005

You’ve been with ISA since 2005. What trends have you noticed “on the road” with regard to what students are looking for over the past seven years?

Certainly there is more of a focus on “what” students want to study abroad rather than “where” students want to study abroad. While students are still looking for academic programs abroad to gain valuable experience and enhance their undergraduate degrees, they cannot afford for these opportunities to set them back in their degree plans. I think this has a lot to do with the dip in the economy.

Tell us a little about how ISA has evolved since you’ve been here.

Bigger, better, faster, stronger! When I started at ISA in 2005, there were around 30 staff members working in the US. Now there are around 100. While we all still wear many hats at ISA, with the increased staff it has become much more possible to focus on specific areas and specialize a bit. There have been a lot of changes, but the organizations goals have remained constant and the talent and enthusiasm of our staff is what makes ISA such a great place to work.

Dominican Republic, 2005.

I understand you were able to visit ISA’s program in the Dominican Republic last year. What was it like to visit your “home sweet study abroad home”?

The best part of returning to Santiago was spending time with my host family and with our Resident Director, Eliesset, my [Resident Director]. I was able to spend an afternoon reminiscing with my Dominican parents over lunch and coffee and get caught up on all that has happened over the last few years. They do not have an email address, so it’s been hard to keep in touch since I lived with them, but we seemed to pick up just where we left off. Regarding Santiago, there were certain aspects of the city that seemed frozen in time and just as I remembered them, and others that had changed quite dramatically. One of the biggest changes was the new ISA Office, which is absolutely gorgeous.

What are you most proud of?

I think I am most proud of turning one of my passions into my career. I have many friends that have jumped from job to job since graduating college, searching for the right combination of being challenged and happy in their work lives. I think there is something to be said about being steadfast in your pursuit of what makes you tick and not settling. I feel that drive is what has made me successful in my career with ISA.

What things do you like to do when you’re not working?

I’m from Colorado, so naturally I love the outdoors! I like to go snowboarding, running, playing team sports, camping, mountain biking… you name it. Traveling is something that I love, whether working or not. I love to cook, and am hopelessly addicted to the Food Network. I also love college football and watching my Oregon Ducks play whenever possible. I’m also pretty excited for the Peyton Manning era to begin for the Denver Broncos!

Finally, what do you like about working here at ISA?

What I like most about working at ISA is the constant change. This is an exciting place to be because there are always new initiatives, projects and challenges that keep you on your toes. If you have an idea on how to make things better, you are encouraged to move forward. There are great opportunities to grow professionally and a young, energetic staff that keeps the workplace exciting. That paired with the ability to travel and encourage college students to do the same is why I love what I do!