Meet the Staff of Education Abroad

Don't Know Where to Start? Find your advisor here or email abroad[at]umass[dot]edu   

Ed Abroad Staff View

Kimberly Croke 
Faculty-led Programs Assistant 

kcroke [at]

Available Tuesday and Wednesday from 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., and Thursday from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Kim assists with the administrative functions related to the Faculty-Led study abroad programs. She also assists students with the application process for these programs. Prior to this Kim worked as the Asia Exchange Programs Assistant.

Andrea Campbell Drake, M.Ed.
Director of International Health, Safety, and Security 

andreadrake [at]

As the Director of International Health, Safety, and Security, Andrea is responsible for developing systems to support students, staff, and faculty traveling abroad as well as the implementation of comprehensive international travel safety policies and strategies for campus. Andrea also serves as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator for incidents abroad. Andrea earned a dual B.A. degree from Northeastern University in International Affairs and Languages, Literature, and Cultures with a minor in Middle East Studies. Her undergraduate program included two full time co-ops working at Amnesty International and The Boston Globe as well as periods studying abroad in Paris and a program in Egypt, Syria, and Qatar. Her travel experience continued post-college with a summer volunteering in Haiti on the small island of Île-à-Vache. Andrea earned her Master's in Higher Education Administration from UMass Amherst in 2018. She previously served as the President of the Massachusetts Council for International Education (MaCIE) from 2019-2020. Andrea is currently on the Board of Directors for Pulse, International Safety and Security Professionals in Higher Education and holds a leadership position with NAFSA, as Coordinator for Health and Safety in the Education Abroad Knowledge Community and Co-Chair of the Health and Safety Subcommittee.

Mark Eckman
Director of Education Abroad

eckmanm [at]

Mark began his career in education abroad in 2007 at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (UWM), and later that year he took on the role of Assistant Director of Global Student Services at St. John’s University in Queens, NY. While at St. John’s he was part of an effort to dramatically increase participation in education abroad programs, the result of which was a 400% increase over his four-year tenure at the institution.

Mark returned to UWM in 2011 as the Director of Study Abroad in the Center for International Education’s Study Abroad Office. During his time at UWM, Mark expanded access to programs for students, created a more robust emergency response protocol, engaged faculty program leaders from traditionally underrepresented academic areas, and positioned UWM as a leader in international education within Wisconsin.

In 2017 Mark stepped into the role of Senior International Officer, providing oversight and leadership for the Center for International Education. As SIO he worked to strengthen the connections between incoming and outbound students, and facilitated strategic planning and coordination of international education initiatives across the institution.

Mark joined the International Programs Office in 2019, as the Director of Education Abroad. In this position he is responsible for all outbound international education programs, including semester and exchange programs, as well as faculty-taught programs.

Having studied and lived abroad, Mark is an accomplished international traveler. His first international trip, at the age of five, planted the seed early. When not traveling, professionally or personally, Mark is most often found spending time with his wife and two kids, exploring parks and other outdoor pursuits, and, whenever possible, riding the back roads of western Massachusetts.

Lina Heaster-Ekholm
Programs Assistant

ipoevents [at]

I was three weeks old when I crossed the Atlantic for the first time, and much of my life since has been spent living, traveling, and learning abroad. This has enriched my life in countless ways. To paraphrase Arthur Miller, studying abroad is about much more than seeing new places; it’s also about developing new ways of seeing (and being!). I’m excited for UMass students to have this experience as well. As the graduate assistant for pre-departure and re-entry programming, I am responsible for developing resources to help students not only feel more prepared to travel and make the most out of your time abroad, but also know how to better integrate your experience once you return. In addition to my work with the Ed Abroad office, I am a doctoral student here at UMass in the International Education concentration.

Ashley Krause
Education Abroad Advisor

aekrause [at]

Advisor for: Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

Ashley advises students about study abroad opportunities in Asia and the Pacific. Ashley earned a B.A. in Asian Studies, which included spending a year abroad in Japan, and an M.Ed in Higher Education from Havard’s Graduate School of Education. Her experience in Asia includes teaching English in Hokkaido with JET for 2 years, and travel in China and Thailand. Professionally, Ashley has worked for study abroad programs and at small colleges in study abroad, and is very happy to have landed at UMass, where there is a such a diverse student body, with a variety of goals, with so many programs options. Her favorite part of advising is getting to know students and help them make their study abroad goals a reality. She encourages students to go abroad with an open mind and to take advantage of every opportunity; you may find so much more than you were seeking.

AJ LeBlanc
Education Abroad Advising Center Coordinator & Education Abroad Advisor

leblanc [at]

Advisor for: Ireland, United Kingdom

AJ earned her M.Ed. from UMass in 2002 and has been working on campus since 2007. She was thrilled to join the Education Abroad team during the summer of 2015. Through generous scholarships, she was able to participate in an internship in London the summer before her senior year of college. This provided her with experience and skills that she has used in the classroom, in her career and in all aspects of her life. She believes that study away programs should be an option for all students in all majors, no matter what their backgrounds or resources are. She encourages any student to come talk to the Education Abroad staff, explore the opportunities available and learn how to make studying abroad a reality.

Claire Novotny
International Exchange Advisor

cnovotny [at]

As the International Exchange Advisor, Claire works with all incoming and outgoing exchange students. She holds a BA in Anthropology from the University for Massachusetts and a MA in Intercultural Leadership from SIT Graduate Institute. She studied abroad three times while in college and has led over 20 faculty-taught programs throughout the world. Outside the office, Claire keeps busy hiking in the woods, spending time with friends, and frequenting local coffee shops!

Emily Ostenson
Education Abroad Advisor

eostenson [at]

Advisor for: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ghana, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Senegal, Sweden, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates

Emily serves as Education Abroad Advisor for various regions in continental Europe as well as the Middle East and Northern and Central Africa.  She was inspired to work in education abroad after spending an academic year in Montpellier, France as an undergraduate.  She currently serves as Secretary for NAFSA Region XI (New England) and was past Vice President of the Massachusetts Council for International Education (MaCIE) from 2018-2020.  She holds a BA in French from Augsburg University in Minneapolis and a Master of French Studies in International Education from the Professional French Masters Program at the University of Wisconsin Madison.


Michael Romero
Coordinator for Faculty Taught Programs

mjromero [at]

Advisor for: Faculty Taught Programs
Mike serves as the Coordinator for all Faculty-led Programming at UMass Education Abroad. A Massachusetts native and alumnus of UMass with a B.A. in English and Letter of Specialization in Professional Writing, Mike spent a semester abroad in the United Kingdom during his undergrad career and has since returned to the UK to lead short-term programs in a professional capacity.

Kate Smith
Student Account Manager

kes [at]

Kate supports students through the study abroad process by monitoring their progress through the Terra Dotta software application. She is our liaison with the UMass Undergraduate Registrar, Bursar and Financial Aid Services and ensures students’ status and billing information is correct in SPIRE. Kate also works closely with University Health Services and Dean of Students office seeking clearance for students to safely go abroad. Recognizing that students benefit from various levels of support, Kate is available for advising regarding the financial aspects of Education Abroad. She helps students compare program costs and figure out their budgets. Preparing to study abroad is exciting, scary, complicated and fun all at the same time! “Helping students and families through this process is hugely satisfying”.

Cristina Sosa
Associate Director of Education Abroad 

csosa [at]

Advisor for: Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Buenos Aires, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cuba, Ecuador, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Kenya, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Sea Semester, Spain, Tanzania, Uruguay

Available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday 9:00 a.m.-3:15 p.m.

What are you waiting for? Go study abroad! Best thing in your college career... As you can see, Cris truly feels this is one of the most incredible experiences you will have in your lifetime. She wishes she had studied abroad during her college career and truly regrets not doing it. Cris was born in Havana, Cuba and spent the first eight years of her life there, until her family fled to the United States following Castro's rise to power. She has lived in two cultures all her life with one foot in the U.S. and the other one 90 miles away in Cuba. Cris completed her undergraduate degree in Political Science at UMass Amherst and then continued on to a Masters in Educational Policy and Administration. She has been a photographer, worked for a cruise line in Miami, worked in an ad agency in New Jersey, traveled the world recruiting students for an area college and started an international office at a state school in Massachusetts. Her most rewarding job: “What I am doing now, facilitating study abroad opportunities for students at UMass.”

Shamo Thar
Curriculum Integration Assistant

curriculum [at]

Shamo Thar (Xia Maotai) serves as a Curriculum Integration Assistant in The Education Abroad Office, where she maps, assesses and promotes academically rewarding programs for UMass Amherst students overseas.

She is excited to work in the Education Abroad Office and truly believes the values of quality international academic opportunities for each and every student. She is a Ph.D. candidate at UMass Amherst’s College of Education, concentrating her research in International Higher Education—specifically, investigating questions related to college access, equity, and success for minority students.

Prior to UMass Amherst, Shamo worked as a lecturer at Qinghai Normal University in Western China, Eastern Tibet, where she taught classes related to education and development studies, also led service-learning, community-driven projects with the students.

Shamo has working experiences both in nonprofit organizations and universities from different countries, including the U.S.A and China. She has also traveled to many countries such as Canada, Australia, Germany, and Bangladesh through short-term Fellowship Programs, mainly residing in its universities. Her leisure activities include cooking, meditating, jogging, and writing children’s stories in her native language.

Kalpen Trivedi, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for International Programs

ktrivedi [at]

Kalpen Trivedi (Ph.D., University of Manchester, 2001) is the Associate Provost for International Programs. With over fifteen years of experience in international higher education, Kalpen is responsible for the strategic and operational oversight of student mobility programs, university exchanges, and UMass faculty-led programming overseas, and also supports comprehensive internationalization across campus. He oversees international travel safety and risk management and also serves as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator. With previous degrees from India, Oxford, and Cambridge, Kalpen is trained as a literary scholar of the British Middle Ages and speaks fluent French, Hindi, and Gujarati, passable Urdu and Italian, and rudimentary German. Kalpen has lived and worked on three continents and he enjoys traveling and encountering new places, peoples, and cuisines. His leisure activities include reading, American Football, and music.