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Scholar Practitioner: William Baptist, 'I’ve Got the Perfect Job'

by Tom Hanlon / Feb 23, 2021

Alumnus William Baptist

Alumnus William Baptist has used his education and experience at the University of Illinois and the College of Education to craft an ideal position in international education at Florida State University.

At the University of Illinois, in the College of Education, William Baptist found his niche in international education.

Now, as program manager in International Programs at Florida State University, Baptist is helping his students do the same.

“Illinois gave me the tools, the resources, and the support that I needed,” Baptist says. “I’m in a good spot moving forward, and that’s a great deal due to my time in the College of Education.”

He teaches courses in Global Foundations and Global Engagement at FSU, where he introduces students to the concepts, theories, and behaviors associated with intercultural communication, equipping them with practical skills for living abroad—something he did for five years before returning to the States for his master’s at Illinois. “I get my students in the mindset of being a global citizen and thinking outside the box,” he says.

When Baptist arrived on Illinois’ campus in 2015 to begin work on his master’s degree in Global Studies in Education, he knew he wanted to be in higher education and in international education. He just wasn’t certain what his precise path would be.

The College of Education, Baptist says, helped him find that path. “I used my education at Illinois to get out of being restricted,” he says. “There are people in the College and around the University of Illinois whose brains I pick even today. I’ll be forever grateful.”

He names Dr. Reitumetse Mabokela, Dr. Christopher Span, Dr. Cameron McCarthy, and Dean James D. Anderson among those who helped him. But perhaps his deepest gratitude is extended to Dr. Allison Witt, director of International Programs in the College.

“Doc [Witt] presented a smorgasbord for me, showed me the options,” Baptist says. “She showed me how I could use my education and my experience at Illinois to fit into this hole or this hole or that hole. She steered me to go study abroad to finish my master's degree in Indonesia on the inaugural trip, and it was a life-changing experience.”

Baptist served as an international advising specialist for International Student & Scholar Services at the University of Illinois, where he also chaired a scholarship committee—experiences he is putting to use now at FSU as chair of the minority study abroad scholarships. “I hope to build that,” he says. “A lot of my work involves intercultural communications in global citizenship.”

Baptist’s academic journey is not over. “I’m planning on getting a doctorate,” he says. “I want to continue to develop my craft and build courses, and as my education increases, I’ll get better and better at it.

“I’ve got the perfect job. I love it. And I was able to make my education and my professional aspects intermingle in real time through the help of the people at the College of Education.”

About the Scholar-Practitioner Series
The College of Education is profiling alumni to reveal how they are putting to use what they learned during their time in the College, and how that learning has impacted them in the field.