Barbara Abromitis wanted to become a teacher.
That goal brought her to the NIU College of Education, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1983.
Life had other plans, though.
“When my kids were young, I started doing grant-writing because I could do that from home,” Abromitis says.
She had found her unexpected niche, and two decades later, became director of grants at the College of DuPage.
“I work closely with faculty to develop program ideas, write proposals, find funding for them and then oversee the management of those projects and troubleshoot,” she says. “I work with pretty much every department of the college, and I know a little about a lot of things. It’s interesting for me to see what they all do.”
Now the two-time NIU College of Education alumna is the thrilled recipient of a Fulbright grant.
Abromitis is among six Americans chosen to attend a two-week seminar in Moscow for community college administrators. Six counterparts from Russia also will participate.
Fulbright’s International Education Administrators (IEA) seminars help U.S. international education professionals and senior higher education officials create empowering connections with the societal, cultural and higher education systems of other countries.
Grantees can learn about the host country’s education system as well as establish networks of U.S. and international colleagues over the course of an intensive two-week grant duration. They return with an enhanced ability to serve and encourage international students and prospective study-abroad students.
“My understanding is that it’s basically an opportunity to share how we develop our programs, how we address issues such as student completion, how we help people with their career paths,” she says. “We will share what we do and learn from each other. The most interesting part of visiting other parts of the world is that people have such different perspectives.”
Other activities of the seminar, scheduled from March 31 through April 14, are field trips to Russian universities and technical colleges.
She wants to return with ideas that will benefit students and faculty at the College of DuPage.
“I’m very poised to take what I learn to the faculty – ‘Can we do this?’ ‘What makes sense for us?’ Not everything is going to translate perfectly,” she says. “I’m hoping to make different connections and see what applies to us here.”
Those conversations will allow her to continue putting to good use her 1999 Ed.D. in Reading Education with a cognate in educational psychology and extensive coursework in curriculum and supervision.
“My doctoral program at NIU was wonderful. Even though I’m not working in the field of literacy right now, I feel like I use those skills all the time,” Abromitis says.
“I’m looking at statistics, working to analyze what’s happening in the situation, knowing theories about how people learn and the best way to teach,” she adds. “Even in just trying to build a case for why a funder should support a program, I’m using those things very often. One of our biggest grants is an Adult Education/Family Literacy Grant, and I enjoy working closely with those program people and looking for additional funding for literacy.”