David Younger, associate director of the University of Notre Dame’s study abroad program, studied social work at Franciscan University, hoping to do counseling work after graduation. However, Younger soon realized God was calling him in a different direction.
Immediately after graduating, Younger worked as residence director of Franciscan’s Study Abroad Program in Gaming, Austria, from June 2001-June 2005. This experience profoundly impacted him, utilizing his social work education in ways he hadn’t expected.
“The real professional joy I had while working in Austria was watching the transformation that occurs during a study-abroad experience,” says Younger. “Changing lives was the reason I studied social work in the first place. When I learned I could be involved in international education as a career, transforming lives through collaboration with faculty and other cultures, I wanted in!”
Younger earned a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs from Indiana University in 2007 before taking the position at Notre Dame. Younger currently manages a portfolio of study-abroad programs and has helped establish undergraduate research-abroad opportunities in Rome and Ireland. He works to help students obtain transformational study-abroad experiences, much as he did while in Gaming.
This led Younger to apply to an International Education Administrators Seminar, a Fulbright Scholar Program. The program will bring together a delegation of university administrators and faculty to visit Indian universities, colleges, research institutes, think tanks, and NGO’s with the hope that such visits will bring about new collaborations between India and the US. In March 2020, Younger was set to travel to India as a Fulbright scholar. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the U. S. State Department to defer this experience to a later date.
“This program and my work at Notre Dame uniquely allow me to impact and support both students going abroad and faculty in establishing meaningful partnerships and developing overseas programs,” he says. “While I’m not a social worker as I thought I would be, I still use the communication and advocacy skills I learned to help students and colleagues succeed.”