Amy Garrett moved from Mumbai, India to Shanghai, China in 2014 while enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Northern Iowa. Garrett achieved a job as a technology coach at Hong Kong International School because she strengthened her skills in the University of Northern Iowa’s teacher leadership for international educator’s master’s program, which is designed to help current teachers working in international schools advance into non-administrative leadership roles.

Garrett enrolled in the master's program from January 2013 to December 2014 after receiving her BA in Education and Spanish from UNI. However, the program's cohort-model reaches far beyond Iowa. The 2021-2022 cohort includes students from nine different countries: South Korea, India, Honduras, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

Josh Takayoshi, who was enrolled in the program from 2020 to 2021 while residing in Muscat, Oman, said “I enrolled in the program for two reasons: Firstly, I wanted to see if leadership was something I was interested in pursuing. Secondly, I had heard about UNI’s reputation in education, and one of my colleagues recommended the program.”

It is a little known fact that UNI has a strong reputation abroad. Dr. Timothy Gilson, the coordinator for the international educators program said, “The University of Northern Iowa has had for 30 or more years a very strong reputation abroad, and it's a reputation that I think a lot of people don't even recognize, understand or appreciate.” Overseas programs like Camp Adventure and UNI’s international teaching office have spread UNI’s reputation globally. 

Gilson said that organizing the Zoom classes to fit everyone’s time zones is a unique part of the international educator’s program. He said that when class starts, “the folks in Dubai, they're going right from teaching to our class, whereas my students in South Korea are getting ready for bed.” However, the difference in time zones has not prevented the cohorts from forming relationships. 

Garrett and Takayoshi have stayed in touch with their cohorts through social media. Garrett said, “I loved the rich conversations with my group, expanding our horizon and pushing the boundaries of what a typical school looks like. Also, our cohort had the coolest Bollywood style flash mob at our graduation ceremony in Mumbai.” Even though they only saw one another virtually, they created a strong cohort. “The power of the cohort model has a huge positive impact on the strength of the program,” said Gilson.

Takayoshi and Garrett said they were grateful for the skills they gained throughout the program. “I think this degree helped me with how to communicate with others more effectively. It was not just the content, but the professors in this program really helped me see what real leadership looks like and how it should be modeled,“ said Takayoshi.