Paulette Stenzel, professor emeritus of sustainability and international business law in the Department of Finance, is a seasoned professional who has 40 years of dedicated experience in teaching, advising and mentoring at Michigan State University. She has led numerous education abroad experiences in Guatemala and Mexico and has served as the faculty adviser for the Spartan Global Development Fund since its inception in 2009.
These experiences and more have earned her many awards, including the Withrow Teaching Excellence Award and three Lewis Quality of Excellence Awards for her excellence in scholarly activities. Most recently, she was recognized for her lasting commitment to the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program.
“My work with the Spartan Global Development Fund and Humphrey Fellows synthesizes many facets of my professional life: teaching on campus, research, international studies, service to students and to fellow human beings around the globe (and especially in Guatemala), service and service learning,” Stenzel said.
The Humphrey Fellowship Program was founded in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter in honor of the late senator and vice president, who was committed to the advocacy of human rights and international relations. The program has awarded more than 6,000 Humphrey Fellows from more than 160 countries, all of whom are nominated by U.S. Embassies and Fulbright Commissions and selected based on their impact as future leaders.
MSU is one of the 16 major American universities that have been chosen to host Humphrey Fellows, focusing on economic development. While on campus, Humphrey Fellows have the opportunity to participate in research and studies, including business, economics, public policy, human resources, community sustainability and law.
“This program has a tremendous impact on burnishing MSU’s reputation for being a leader in promoting and sustaining international engagement,” Eli and Edythe L. Broad Dean Sanjay Gupta said. “Paulette’s valued efforts also support one of the Broad College’s strategic themes: a commitment to grow a global mindset.”
Stenzel began her work as a mentor for Humphrey Fellows in 2012 and has continued to make a lasting impact, even after she retired from full-time work at MSU in 2020.
“Through Humphrey Fellows, I have learned a great deal with each Fellow with whom I have worked, and I bring that learning into my teaching. Even more directly, I have brought panels of Humphrey Fellows into my classes to interact in person with my students.”
In her role, Stenzel provides professional support for her Fellows by helping them develop professional contacts and attend events to meet others in the program. She shared an example from last year in which she attended a reception at Cowles House with a mentee. While there, Stenzel had the opportunity to talk with other Humphrey Fellows, discussing mutual interests and sharing contacts for the mentee’s future reference.
Stenzel says she stays in touch with Fellows through LinkedIn and Facebook. “Facebook is more personal. That allows me to see ‘the general news’ in their lives and share mine, as well as send private messages as we keep up with each other’s lives,” she said.
Beyond the Humphrey Fellowship Program, Stenzel continues her engagement with economic development professionals worldwide in addition to her passion for teaching. For the upcoming 2022–23 academic year, Stenzel is set to teach two courses at MSU, including International Business Law and Sustainability and a new course she has created and will teach for the first time: Business and Culture in Latin America.
“One silver lining of teaching under COVID is that we have all learned to use Zoom effectively and extensively,” Stenzel said, helping foster new connections for Broad Spartans. For instance, in her new course, she explained how students “will visit each week via Zoom with a businessperson from [Latin America], and several of my presenters are former Humphrey Fellows.”
Over her time at MSU, Stenzel has also combined service and teaching into two education abroad programs for which she was the originator. From 1997 to 2009, she led the Honors Business Program in Merida, Mexico. She continues to lead the Grassroots Tools of Sustainable Development Service-Learning program in Guatemala.
Stenzel mentioned how she developed a passion for the people and cultures of Mexico and Guatemala when she first traveled to Mexico at age 17. Since then, she has ventured across the world and has been driven to provide many MSU students with international experiences locally, on campus and at various global destinations.
“It is ever so rewarding to witness my students’ experiences, learning and wonder as they interact with people from those warm and engaging cultures,” she said. “Moreover, I can give them cultural and historical context on site. Such context is essential while doing business in or with another country.
“Education abroad, especially service-learning programming, brings classroom learning alive as we cultivate globally engaged citizens. My students return to campus inspired to share what they have learned with others at MSU and continue to engage in service to others while on campus and beyond.”