At age 12, Courtney Edwards and her family moved from Wisconsin to Auburn. When it came time to commit to a college, several of her friends encouraged her to leave the Alabama small town to broaden her perspective. Edwards, however, said, “I will never regret choosing to study at Auburn. The friendships and relationships that I developed with my classmates, mentors, and professors who genuinely wanted to see me succeed motivated and inspired me to strive for bigger things than I ever thought were possible.”

Graduating in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and in 2016 with a master’s degree in Communications, Edwards found that her passion lies in “meeting new people and learning about their interests and backgrounds,” she said. Auburn Global, which provides academic and language support, as well as cultural experiences for international students, hired Edwards as a Marketing Coordinator. There she serves as an expert on their programs and services “to attract new international students and to tell the student story.”

“I get to know students from the moment they arrive on campus and then have the honor of following them throughout their time at Auburn,” said Edwards. Similar to a journalist, she writes blog posts about her students’ lives. “I love getting to know our students, encouraging their personal and academic growth, documenting their experiences and sharing their stories with others. Gathering the students’ stories has broadened my perspective and I hope it has and will continue to do the same for those who read the pieces I write.”

Like the diverse cultures each student presents her, Edwards’ day-to-day is unique in its tasks and challenges. From coordinating a video or photo shoot, interviewing students for highlight stories, calling team members, to travelling abroad to talk to perspective students, she does it all.

Last fall, Edwards flew to China for Auburn Global – her first trip outside of the U.S. Travelling from central to southern China halfway into her two-week journey, she was having trouble navigating through the airport. “A young man must have seen the distress on my face and we began to talk,” she said. “Once we passed through security, he invited me to join him and his colleague for dinner and I gladly accepted the invitation. Not only did these two kind strangers order and pay for my dinner, we sat and talked for an hour about our lives, and finally they escorted me to my gate.”

This random act of kindness left an impression on her heart and reminded her to “be the light” –  something her mother used to say. No matter what may be happening in life, “you can choose to the be the light to others by being kind and compassionate. Take a few seconds to hold the door for someone or talk to the lonely person in the room. It can make a world of difference, sometimes so big that it’s contagious.”

This kind of compassion is certainly evident in her work at Auburn Global, where she understands how difficult adjusting to a new country and culture can be. “I think a little empathy can go a long way, and it’s important to consider these factors when working with international students,” Edwards said. With her help, students become acclimated and “share their love for Auburn no matter where their lives take them after graduation.”