ISA at 25 Interviews: Making Study Abroad a Reality, One Student at Time

Each week we will be featuring interviews with ISA staff members as part of our 25th Anniversary. This week we’re talking to Susan Farley, Associate Vice President for Student Services & Financial Aid. Susan has been with ISA since 1997.

Susan as a student in Costa Rica in 1997.

What you do here at ISA?

As the Associate Vice President of Student Services and Financial Aid, I work with our Scholarship programs, student insurance, and help facilitate financial aid and billing agreements. Much of my time is spent working with students and our colleagues at universities in the U.S. to apply federal or other funding to an ISA program. Many ISA students face financial challenges when it comes to study abroad, and we do our best to assist them with this sometimes daunting process. Luckily, we also have thousands of dollars in ISA Scholarships available each year and it is wonderful to be able to provide that extra financial assistance to the students who are selected as winners of those awards!

Susan, right, in class during her first study abroad experience in Costa Rica.

What’s your study abroad story? Tell us a little bit about your first international experiences and how you came to work here at ISA.

I studied abroad in Costa Rica, where I lived with a host family, took Spanish classes and had an internship. After that program ended, I traveled around the country for a while and then decided to extend my stay further to make the most of my time abroad and continue taking Spanish classes. After my initial study abroad experience, I was fortunate enough to make many international trips in my years prior to coming to ISA via mission trips and as a tourist. In 1997, I was lucky enough to get a job here at ISA.

You’ve been with ISA for over 15 years now. How has ISA as an organization changed since the mid-1990s?

ISA has grown immensely in those years internally, with our programs and the number of students going abroad with us but I am happy that with all of the change and growth we have experienced in those years, we are still able to offer the personal service that has always been so important to ISA.

ISA has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 25 years. From your perspective as the Associate Vice President of Student Services and Financial Aid, what is ISA doing right?

Through all of the growth in our programs, the ISA teams in the U.S. and abroad continue to operate in the same way that we always have with a focus on personal service. We truly care about the programs we offer and we have a personal interest in providing participants with a wonderful and rewarding experience.

What advice do you have for students applying for one of ISA’s Scholarships?

Only students who satisfy the requirements and submit a complete application will be considered, but with the thousands of dollars in scholarship opportunities we have available the effort to apply is worth it!  My advice is for students to review the requirements and if they are met… apply!

What things do you like to do when you’re not working? I enjoy hiking, boating, camping, and really any activity that gets me outside! Austin offers lots of opportunities to participate in these activities and I have been fortunate to get to do many of them in other parts of the U.S. and abroad, as well.

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

My favorite things about working at ISA are my wonderful colleagues domestically and abroad and the confidence we share in the wonderful programs that we offer.