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The Forum Announces Mónica Pérez-Bedmar as the Recipient of the 2023 Peter A. Wollitzer Advocacy Award

We’re excited to share that Mónica Pérez-Bedmar of APUNE, Saint Louis University Madrid, and Syracuse University Madrid has been named the recipient of the 2023 Peter A. Wollitzer Advocacy Award! Pérez-Bedmar received the Award in Seattle at The Forum’s 19th Annual Conference on March 24, 2023.

The Forum’s Peter A. Wollitzer Advocacy Award recognizes the exceptional contributions of colleagues in the education abroad community who have challenged and inspired others to understand and support the benefits of education abroad. Through their meaningful work and service to the field, award recipients have been remarkably effective in promoting the positive impact of education abroad and in advancing The Forum’s mission, vision, and foundational principles.

Pérez-Bedmar’s nomination was submitted by APUNE President Ignacio Messana (Florida State University). John Lucas of ISEP Study Abroad presented the Award to Pérez-Bedmar at the Annual Conference.

When sharing why Pérez-Bedmar should be considered, Messana said, “I can confidently state that there is no better candidate who personifies the commitment and dedication to champion quality study abroad than Mónica Pérez-Bedmar.

“Over the past 20 years, first as the coordinator and then as the executive director of APUNE, Monica has actively worked to establish quality standards in Spain that have directly contributed to the professionalization of the care offered to students during their experience abroad. She has done this through community-building among U.S. university programs in Spain, a passion for continuing education and professional development, and a commitment to establishing and nurturing relationships with strategic partners, such as American Citizen Services, Forum on Education Abroad, EUASA, and NAFSA, among others, which have undoubtedly centered education abroad within the mission of higher education. Mónica’s work has directly contributed to agreements between and among different universities, both Spanish and U.S. American, thus increasing the number of active study abroad programs, and, as a result, the number of U.S. university students who have the opportunity to study in Spain.

“Ms. Pérez Bedmar’s approachable personality, along with her empathy, kindness, and caring, have allowed her to effectively advocate for and with a diverse community of universities, programs, and institutions, encouraging participation, collaboration, and strong peer support. Her efforts have resulted in an active and productive network of education abroad peers that includes, but is certainly not limited to, resource-sharing in the areas of health, safety, diversity, and inclusion abroad.”

Pérez-Bedmar joins an esteemed group of recipients of the Peter A. Wollitzer Advocacy Award—previous winners include Dr. Keshia Abraham (2022), J. Scott Van Der Meid (2021), Dr. Michael Woolf (2020), Dr. Kathleen Sideli (2018), and others.

“I know well this award is not only for me but also recognizes the Spanish study abroad staff who work insatiably to support and guarantee the best experience for the U.S. study abroad students,” said Pérez-Bedmar. “They are the invisible heroes of our field, and, with this award, I want to vindicate and thank them for what they have been doing for our students for over five decades. I would also like to acknowledge the work of all APUNE’s European counterparts for their incommensurable work and dedication.”

She added: “International education bridges cultures, customs, and traditions. As international educators, we are responsible for making better citizens committed to Diversity, inclusion, Equity, and Justice. And for this, my next venture is to make abroad students aware of the SDGs, already contemplated in the Forum’s Standards and procedures, as a pathway to achieve this. We, as educators, have the chance, and the responsibility in my opinion, to make our students better citizens, citizens committed to making this world, our working terrain, a better place.”

Congratulations to Pérez-Bedmar, and we thank her for her contributions to the field of international education!