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Meet Your Institutional Relations Officer - Thomas Phillips

Learn all about USAC Institutional Relations Officer, Thomas!

The Institutional Relations team works with universities, colleges, and other institutions around the country and travels to many study abroad fairs. The team is ready to answer any questions you may have about USAC and a current or prospective partnership with your institution.

Schedule an appointment with Thomas

Where did you study abroad?

Thomas at an overlook with a view of Santiago, Chile.

I studied abroad in Santiago, Chile with USAC as an undergrad. Then, as a graduate student in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Sevilla, Spain.

How did you get into the field of International Education?

Thomas posing with a kangaroo in Australia.

Our pathways in life aren’t always direct, and I kept finding myself drawn to the things that were most interesting and exciting, that is, learning about cultures and languages.

I knew I wanted to work in some aspect of education, and it was only natural for me after studying abroad and serving in the Peace Corps to work in civic engagement and student development with a heavy emphasis on the international angle.

What's your favorite thing about working for USAC?

Thomas taking in the view of Lake Como in Italy.The people. It’s always the people. Whether colleagues, prospective students, partners at universities in my region—the human connection is the best part of working at USAC.

What is your favorite memory from your time abroad?

My first day coming home from class in Chile, I bumped the front door into the coffee table—my host mother had moved all the furniture out of the living room as her best friends (tango instructors!) were over for tea. They invited me to join and taught me the basic steps on her parquet floor.

What is your favorite place you have traveled to and why?

Patagonia. Wild, wind-swept, the inspiration for the illustrations in “The Little Prince.” Glaciers, forests, all at the end of the world.

What is your funniest travel memory?

Thomas sitting with a row of palm trees behind him in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I was in Brazil and wanted to attend a weekly mass to see a historic church (and save a few bucks by not taking a tour). I thought I was early, but it had already started when I arrived. Mass seemed normal until right at the end when they mentioned a van going to the cemetery, and then they exited with a coffin—I’d been sitting through a funeral for an hour.