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My Story

Image by frank mckenna

My career in international education has been a rewarding but unexpected journey.  In school, I had always planned to have a career in the world of business.  So, once I had my B.A., I began searching for a job in sales, public relations, or administration.  Naturally, I wanted to carefully explore as many corporate options as I could.  At the same time, however, I was young, and very eager to start working full-time.  One day I learned about a position at my alma mater, a place that had always felt like home, and I decided to apply.  The decision completely changed my career path and transformed my life.  


I was hired to advise students enrolled in the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate program.  I had never had much direct contact with international students before, and suddenly I was interacting with them on a daily basis.  Listening to their languages and learning about their cultures awakened, excited, and inspired me.  I enjoyed seeing my students grow professionally and personally.  I had certainly entered a new and thoroughly captivating world.


Over the years, the university’s professional international programs expanded and my career flourished.  I became the manager of multiple programs and eventually the director responsible for certificate, internship, and custom-designed programs.  We added content in business, management, innovation, engineering, and information technologies.   We also built a large internship program, developing business connections and hundreds of host sites across the U.S.


We customized training for international institutions, government entities, and corporations.  Our longest partnership, a 20-year collaboration with a Brazilian university, provided the international component of their executive-level MBA.   We expanded our successful TEFL program to include an office abroad in South Korea, and we provided training for English teachers and TEFL students in Chilean universities.  Our programs came to enroll thousands of students and generated annual revenue of $8 million.


25 years flew by.  By a stroke of serendipity, international education had become my life’s work.  The students, I believe, were at the heart of it.  They shared their hopes and dreams with me, and I felt their joy as they achieved their long-pursued goals.  I witnessed first-hand how they were transformed by their experiences in our programs.  I came to realize how the impact of an education abroad grows and deepens after students return home.   


My inspiration is creating life-changing opportunities for others, to open doors for people, to help them build a better life through education.   Shortly after leaving the university, I founded UNITAS International Education Consultants.  UNITAS means ‘unity’ in Latin, a word that holds deep meaning for me.  We are one people on one planet.  Working together, we can and should provide educational opportunities with as wide a reach as possible.  It will be a privilege for me and my team to help you build your international efforts, partnerships, and programs.  


Let’s build a united world through a united vision  – UNITAS.

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Kelly L. Oto
Founder & CEO

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