When UNC Greensboro Bryan School of Business and Economics alumna Catherine Crawford Munoz ’17 was accepted into the Experience Business Abroad Belgium trip for the spring of 2015, she knew she’d need to earn some extra cash to fund the excursion.
A sophomore with a few business classes under her belt at the time, Catherine’s passion for entrepreneurship and love of crafting jewelry would not only allow her to raise the necessary funds for Belgium, but eventually flourish into a full-time career.
Now the owner of her own jewelry business, Bijoux by Catherine, Crawford Munoz credits Experience Business Abroad Belgium as being the catalyst that pushed her forward.
“I’d always loved making jewelry, but the trip really pushed me to start creating a product I could be proud of,” Crawford Munoz said. “My grandpa really pushed me to invest in quality materials. I knew I needed to make something that would be worth selling.”
Led by lecturer Karen Lynden, the Experience Business Abroad Belgium trip is housed in the Bryan School’s Department of Management. Students accepted into the program are enrolled in the Belgium MGT-303 course at the beginning of the semester. They spend the first few weeks planning before traveling to UCLouvain – a university located in Louvain la Neuve, Belgium – during the university’s scheduled spring break.
This semester’s cohort was in Belgium from March 4 through March 14.
“For some of our students, this trip marks the first time they travel on a plane. For some, it’s their first time abroad or in Europe,” Lynden said.
The Bryan School recently repaid UCLouvain by sharing the Greensboro campus with a group from Belgium during UNCG Host Week. Crawford Munoz joined in, making her way back to share her story.
According to Lynden, the host exchange model of the Belgium program allows participants to gain insight into what professional travel might look like for them in the future.
“Most importantly, though, I’m confident that students enrolled in this course leave with a greater understanding of how to work in diverse and bi-national teams in person and through virtual project planning,” Lynden said.
For Crawford Munoz, submitting an application for the program seven years ago made a significant impact in more ways than one – in addition to inspiring Bijoux by Catherine, Belgium MGT-303 introduced her to her husband and prompted a return to Louvain a few years later.
“I began a craft that would become my dream job, but I also learned how to socialize and handle myself in a completely different environment,” Crawford Munoz said. “Getting accepted into the Experience Business Abroad Belgium program truly changed my life.”