Cara Lane-Toomey

Director of Study Abroad

Cara received her M.A. from the American University in Cairo (AUC) in the Department of Middle East Studies and also holds a B.A. in Peace Studies and Political Science, minor in Middle Eastern Studies, from University of St. Thomas.

Before attending university, Cara embarked on an experiential education trip through Southeast Asia which opened her eyes to the beauty of travel and cultural exchange. Since then, Cara’s travels have led her to Central and South America, the Middle East, North and sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, and across the U.S.

While much of the world intrigued her, it is the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region where Cara has focused her work and study. Cara’s first exposure to MENA culture and language occurred while spending an undergraduate semester abroad in Egypt at AUC. This initial experience in the MENA was the catalyst for her service as a U.S. Peace Corps Youth Development Volunteer in Morocco. For two years, Cara served in Qelaât M’Gouna, an indigenous town on the edge of the Sahara desert, where she worked on community projects ranging from youth photography to women’s rights education. In addition to the U.S. Peace Corps, Cara has worked for a U.S. Senator, a U.S. Congresswoman, and also served as a Morocco Instructor and Course Director for Dragons for several summers. In 2009, Cara set out to spend two years in um al-dunya while she completed her Masters in Middle East Studies at AUC. It was in Egypt, as well as Morocco and Jordan, where Cara conducted her thesis research on factors influencing the increase of U.S. study abroad students in the MENA region. Following graduate school, Cara went on to work for a study abroad organization in Washington D.C. For six years, Cara designed and implemented study abroad programs for American students in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Tunisia, and the UAE.

Cara returned to Dragons in 2017 where she oversees College Study Abroad Programs as well as high-school and gap year programs in the Middle East and Africa. Cara is actively involved in the Forum on Education Abroad, and is a Certified Professional through the Forum. In her free time, Cara loves playing with her dog, camping on the beach, and exploring new Arabic dialects.