Get to Know Study Away's Permanent Staff!

Meet Elizabeth Strong, the Director of Study Away Programs

Elizabeth Strong in GermanyElizabeth Strong serves as the Director of Study Away Programs at Missouri State University.  In this capacity, she provides the vision and leadership for the program, collaborates with faculty to develop short term programs, refines education abroad policies and procedures, and serves as the health and safety analyst for the University’s program, while supporting efforts to internationalize the Missouri State community.

She holds a B.A. in Economics from Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC and an MBA from Missouri State University. Prior to her role in the Study Away office, Elizabeth served the University in the Citizenship and Service-Learning office, where student participation grew from under 300 to over 2,000 in 10 years. She was selected as an Engaged Scholar with National Campus Compact based on her work in reflection and critical thinking.

At home, Elizabeth enjoys life with her husband, John, and four teenagers. Elizabeth’s outside interests include running and hiking. She has completed 6 marathons and 10 half marathons. Hiking adventures have included Mount Washington, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Perhaps her most memorable and educational experiences have been her travels outside the United States. These journeys include a senior year study abroad program in Europe, and trips of varying lengths to the United Kingdom, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. In 2012, Elizabeth traveled to Amsterdam, and then to Zambia for a safari.

Meet Miko McFarland, Study Away Advisor

Miko Bio Pic

"As a former Missouri State study away student, I understand the value of a global experience during formative college years. As Study Away Advisor, it has become my passion to facilitate education abroad programs so Missouri State students can pursue cultural competency and gain holistic worldviews. Influencing the lives of students through international education is the greatest gift. I cannot imagine a higher purpose to serve in a globalizing world." 

Miko McFarland became the Study Away Programs Advisor in 2010 upon completing her B.A. in Anthropology and Master of International Affairs and Administration at Missouri State University.

While in college, Miko funded her studies as professional rodeo trick rider. Realizing that such a career has its "physical limits," this adrenaline junkie sought new adventures studying and working abroad in Mexico, Japan, and the Netherlands, learning Spanish and Japanese along the way. As the Study Away Advisor, Miko advises students throughout their entire study abroad experience. She is the main contact for all affiliate and reciprocal exchange partners, serves as the ISEP Coordinator, and sits on ISEP's Council of Advisors. She enjoys working with students to make their study abroad plans a reality, and will enthusiastically engage any fellow equestrian in horsetalk.

Miko loves traveling, learning about other cultures, and sharing this passion with students. She also serves as the coach and advisor for the Missouri State University Trick Riding Association (old habits die hard). She shares seven years of marriage with her wonderful husband, Chadd, and together they are proudly owned by a spoiled Boston Terrier and several mischievous horses. When Miko is not advising students, rest assured you will find her performing at the nearest rodeo or out riding the trail! 

Allyson Handley, Special Projects Coordinator

“Walking in someone else’s shoes is a privilege, not a threat to self-identity. Studying away from your home university is one of the best ways to broaden your knowledge of everyday life for people around the globe, and stepping out of your own comfort zone allows you to consider ideas in a light to which you may not have been previously exposed. In my opinion, there is no more important skill to cultivate in the 21st century.”

Allyson and Scott Handley in GizaAllyson Handley became the Study Away Programs Special Projects Coordinator in September of 2012.  She was born and raised in Michigan, and still misses the Great Lakes. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, and a M.A. in German and European Studies from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. 

Allyson has worked and traveled abroad in the Middle East, Africa, western Europe, and Canada.  Her favorite cities worldwide are Edinburgh, Cairo, and Washington, D.C. She speaks German and Spanish, and some Gulf Arabic (but don’t ask her anything complicated).  She reads French, Polish, and Dutch, and hopes to continue to improve her skills in these and other languages.  In the office, her duties include working with incoming international exchange students, advising MSU students at all phases of their study abroad plans, and communication and writing projects. She loves her daily contact with students, parents, and the university community.

Prior to coming to Missouri State, Allyson worked at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar, where she was one of the first four people “on the ground” in the capital city of Doha during the start-up of SFSQ, handling university admissions, advising, business relations, and, well, most everything else.  If you ever plan to open a branch university within a three month timeframe, Allyson will advise you of the general insanity of that plan.  She loved her time in Qatar, however, and counts the people she met during that time among her closest friends and colleagues to date.

Allyson has a daughter, Samantha, who turned six years old in 2012, and a husband, Scott, who actually remembered their 10th anniversary that same year, although he cannot remember to pick up a gallon of milk at the store.  Nevertheless, they are an extremely happy family, and are owned by two Qatari cats that still wake up and meow loudly in preparation for the pre-dawn Islamic call to prayer. 

Meet Marian Green, Administrative Assistant

Marian Green in AlaskaThe Study Away office has been home to Marian for 12 years and she enjoys serving as the office historian.  As the Administrative Assistant she keeps the bills paid, students registered, and the staff supplied with chocolate. 

Marian likes to travel. In the past five years she has traveled internationally to El Salvador and China and her travels in the US include Colorado, Maine and Alaska.  Her big dream vacation is to spend a couple of weeks in Italy. 

As much as she enjoys traveling, Marian loves staying at home with her “fur” babies – a big gray and white cat named Patches and a bouncy puppy named Coco.



Meet Denise Medforth, Accounting Specialist

Denise MedforthAs a native Georgian, Denise brings a touch of Southern charm to the Study Away office.   Her 14 years of accounting experience provides financial assistance to faculty members who are leading short-term study away programs. 

Denise has visited many places over the years which include England, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Holland, Scotland, Canada and Hawaii.  She one day hopes to see Japan, Ireland, Australia and Alaska.

Her interests include playing piano, singing, teaching Sunday school, gardening and listening to various types of music.  She’s been married for 32 years, has two grown daughters, and lives with her husband and two Shih Tzu dogs (Oscar and Gracie) in the countryside of Missouri.