Athena's Guiding Principles

At Athena Study Abroad, we have guiding principles that are the foundation to everything that we do.

So, to understand who we are, it’s best to understand what guides us to do what we do. Here are our 7 Guiding Principles.

'Tolerance is built through knowledge, and knowledge is gained most effectively through experience. Study abroad teaches university students that knowledge has no borders.'

~Stacy McKay Benander

Founder and President of Athena Study Abroad

Foster Tolerance and Understanding Among Cultures Through Experiential Learning.

Through intercultural interaction and collaboration in study abroad, Athena works to:

  • Educate our students on the world’s cultures
  • Educate the world on the US culture
  • Use these interactions and experiences among cultures to break down stereotypes and encourage tolerance and understanding

'Big World. Made Smaller.'

Athena works to make a big world accessible to our students through affordable, smaller programs abroad. At Athena, we are committed to small. We intend to remain a small organization, working with smaller overseas institutions, while serving a small number of U.S. schools. We intend to limit our student numbers at our international sites. We believe this is what leads to quality study abroad.

Serve our students, as we would want to be treated.

Personalization, promptness, accuracy, and friendly and accessible advising and guidance are key to our student-service focus. We know study abroad can be intimidating, and we will do everything we can to make the process as smooth as possible. You are never alone with Athena.

Be the partner we want to have.

At Athena, we don’t want to be a “provider.” We will be a “partner” to both our US based and international partners. That means we want to know our partners’ people, visions, challenges, and goals. We want to work creatively with partners to help them achieve their goals. We want our partners to trust us and always know that we’ll be there for them. We want them to feel that, if Athena is on campus, we are genuinely an extension of the office.

Provide a home away from home for our students.

Athena’s partners abroad are carefully and intentionally selected to ensure they exhibit the values of quality education, personalized service to students, and a commitment to safety and vigilance that Athena expects. We are slow and methodical in our choices of partners abroad and therefore, while you may not see hundreds of programs overseas with Athena, each program is carefully chosen and vetted to meet our stringent standards. We are an intentionally small organization, working with smaller institutional partners abroad to allow us to be personalized, nimble, creative, and collaborative.

Give back to the world.

Developing global citizens through education abroad experiences is a core component of Athena’s mission. Athena developed S.O.S. to ensure that charity is incorporated at the heart of our programs, students, and organization.  Athena’s S.O.S. has four important components:

Service Opportunities for Students: scholarship funds reserved for charity minded students
Staff Offering Support: Athena staff community service
Students Offering Support: Student-selected donations various world charities
Sponsorship Offering Support: Sponsorship of charitable events and projects.

Change the world.

The goal of what we should be measured by the changed lives of the students we serve. Our hope is that students are moved by their new global perspective, and live their lives in ways that will help, shape and improve our world. But it starts at home. Therefore:

  • We offer scholarships to students who are world changers before they go.
  • We enlist students to be world changers while abroad.
  • We allow students to select the charity to which a portion of their program fees will be given.
  • We encourage students upon re-entry to give serious thought to how they can live differently when returning from abroad and apply lessons learned to become better global citizens.
  • The Athena staff, as a team and as individuals, is committed to serving our local communities through service projects and civic involvement.

As idealistic as it sounds … we’re in this to change the world.

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