Stacy McKay Benander believes that a more educated world is a more peaceful world.
To help cultivate greater awareness of and appreciation for the world’s many diverse cultures, Benander started a small business that provides students with authentic, immersive study abroad experiences.
While an undergrad herself, Benander studied in Toledo, Spain. She says it was a life-changing experience that ultimately motivated her to create Athena Study Abroad in 2005.
“We provide positive, academic, and genuine immersion programs for U.S. students,” explains Stacy’s husband, John Benander, who serves as creative director and vice president of development for the company. “This helps dissipate fear of ‘the other,’ leading to a more peaceful world. It may seem idealistic, but that’s the first step toward making positive change.”
According to the Benanders, Athena programs differ from those offered by other organizations in that students are enrolled at small schools overseas so the company can provide personalized services throughout the semester.
Seeking New Means to Promote Its Services
Although Stacy and John have spent close to a decade cultivating greater cultural awareness among American and foreign students, Athena Study Abroad is not unlike most small businesses in its struggle to promote itself. For that reason, John Benander recently entered QuickBooks’ Small Business Local Buzz campaign.
“Winning the QuickBooks Small Business Local Buzz contest would be a huge help!” his entry application reads. “The prize, notably the social media part, will help us better reach our college-aged audience. Integrating marketing systems with our QuickBooks Online system would help, too. Help us change the world!”
This week, the Benanders didn’t have to travel any farther than the nearest telephone to receive the good news that QuickBooks is awarding Athena Travel Abroad a customized marketing package worth $5,000.
Excited and appreciative, John and Stacy aim to use the buzz to spread their message. “Some people view studying abroad as something that’s optional, but it’s becoming more necessary,” Stacy says.
“In the U.S., financial aid is often applicable to study abroad. Credits can transfer back to home schools. And study abroad gives students a competitive edge when they try to get hired: It shows future employers independence and that they’re willing to take risks and go out of their comfort zone,” she explains.
“So, I think that beyond the altruistic value of learning all about the world, there are practical benefits as well for students as they look for job opportunities after they graduate.”
What Are You Waiting For? Get Your Local Buzz On!
Between Feb. 2 and March 16, small businesses have an opportunity to win a customized marketing package worth $5,000. The prize package includes tools tailored to your business, such as a custom video, a social media consultation, and an email template — all geared toward getting more customers, faster. If your small business could benefit from some community buzz, enter now for your chance to win!