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Distinguished teacher strongly recommends studying abroad  

May 1, 2019

This month’s note-worthy staff is Claire McCarty.

Claire McCarty has been employed at UW-River Falls for nearly 20 years, teaching management to students in the College of Business and Economics. She was an integral part of CBE launching, which began 19 years ago. Although she feels that she spends a great deal of her free time working, McCarty has a wide variety of hobbies.

“In my spare time, I golf – not well, but I try,” McCarty said. “I like to grow vegetables, and I spend a lot of time with my pets. One of my dogs, Lucky, is a therapy dog here on campus. The other big hobby would be traveling. Much of my traveling has actually been through facilitating study abroad programs.”

McCarty has travelled with nearly every study abroad program since her employment. She’s been involved with Semester Abroad, Experience Scotland, Traveling Classroom and others.

Claire McCarty is the winner of the 56th annual Distinguished Teacher Award at UW-River Falls.
Claire McCarty is the winner of the 56th annual Distinguished Teacher Award at UW-River Falls. (Photo by Kacey Joslin)

This past fall, McCarty was the leader of the Semester Abroad Europe program. “Every fall, we take students in their junior and senior years to Europe and they do a research project, so it’s a very independent program,” she said. “We help design research projects, and/or applied learning internship experiences. As the leader, I helped people out, got to visit everybody and got to know them.”

McCarty attempts to join a walking tour in every city she visits. “I love to know something about the city and the history. It was pretty incredible. Everyone had a great experience.

In spring semester of 2020, McCarty will be teaching in the Experience Scotland program, which she hasn’t visited since 2005. “Anyone who’s been in the Scotland program, we all love Scotland. I’m of Irish descent, but I still love Scotland,” she laughed. McCarty doesn’t have just one favorite country. “Every new place becomes my favorite place.”

She refers to her profession as “the people side of business, which always has a global element. What I teach abroad, we really like to integrate it to wherever we are. What’s cool is, you’re not just in a classroom. When I taught in the Traveling Classroom, we went to the UN in Vienna, museums and tours which tied in nicely to the courses we teach. We work hard to discover what those opportunities are in different countries.”

She strongly recommends Studying Abroad. “It changes you forever. You get to know yourself better, you develop resilience and maturity and problem-solving skills. Every student says that, it’s not just me. It’s like a mirror on yourself and your culture.”

McCarty added that employers often look for those who’ve student abroad. “If you want to differentiate yourself, or be competitive, it shows that you’re resilient, you’ve dealt with challenges,andit’s a lot of fun.”

When she was 16, McCarty studied abroad in Brazil. “It was scary, and hard to be away from home,” she admitted. “But it was such a growth experience.”

McCarty is also the recipient of the 56th annual Distinguished Teacher Award. “It was a great honor, the highest teaching award you can get at UWRF,” she explained.

Graduating seniors and recent graduates nominated her, citing McCarty’s “passion and desire to push students to their full potential,” as well as her “eagerness to connect students and get them involved in internships, student organizations and study abroad opportunities while ensuring that they feel supported throughout the entire process,” according to a campus community update by Dean Van Galen.

“I’m very honored that students took the time to do that, but I was surprised!” McCarty said of her nomination. “I got a notice that the Chancellor was going to stop by, and I thought, ‘What did I do?!’ He laughed, because that’s what everybody thinks.”

McCarty stated that she was glad to represent the College of Business and Economics.

“I think a lot of faculty work very hard and don’t always get the recognition,” she continued. “But we don’t do it for that. I do it because, everyday, talking to my students, I know I had an impact; that I helped somebody get into grad school, or give them the idea to go into a career path they never thought of before, or just the confidence to do so. I love that, and it’s intrinsically satisfying.”

McCarty will receive an engraved portrait and a plaque for the Distinguished Teacher display in the Walker D. Wyman Education Building, as well as give a commencement speech in December for graduating students.