UNC Around the World

Entrepreneurs, social workers, teachers, actors and volunteers are among the 800-plus UNC alumni living and working abroad. Ten graduates share their stories following their life-changing decisions to take their talents to countries spanning the globe.

CarolLeeCruises Pay Off for Worldwide Traveler

CarolLee Miles got married when she was 18, had children and put her husband through college. By the time her children were grown, she went through a kind of midlife crisis. That’s when the Greeley resident began taking UNC classes. She didn’t really have a major in mind, or any kind of a career.

“I really needed to find ‘me’ at that time in my life,” she says.

Twenty years after she graduated from high school, she earned a business degree in 1981 and eventually became a cruise director, book author and serenity seeker who has traveled to more than 100 countries on all seven continents.

“I just love to say some of us are just kind of slow learners,” she says.

VideoShe started with the Ports of Travel Club in 1986. When the company went out of business, she got certified as a tour and cruise director, and she’s been a professional for 25 years now. Out of the hundreds of cruises she’s taken, she’s paid for five of them. She worked on the rest, leading groups from as few as 13 and to as many as 385. Her work led to a book she self-published this year, Getting Paid to Cruise: Secrets of a Professional Cruise Host.

Miles works for companies such as AAA as a liaison who can plan excursions for cruisers and help solve the hundreds of problems that occur on the ship, from broken toilets to bad food to medical emergencies. She runs a website for people to book trips.

Peace is a huge part of her life. She not only writes about it in her book, she created a CD of her poetry set to music. That was sparked during a 1996 tour to Jerusalem, when a bomb burst near the hotel where her group was staying. After the blast, the first thing she heard were birds and people praying at the Western Wall.

“I love it when I can help people with some sort of terror in their life, and get them past that, and that’s all about psychology,” she says. NV

For more on Miles,



• Learn a foreign language — Many get a job simply because they can speak the language over there.

• Get some experience abroad — A stint in the Peace Corps or internship overseas builds the résumé.

• Teach or volunteer — Opportunities abound in those two vocations, even for first-year teachers. If you’re willing to go anywhere, you will get a job, and usually schools will help you with the paperwork.

• Do it — It’s difficult, and the transition, especially at first, will probably be tough. But it’s worth every experience.

• Think outside the box — The jobs available overseas are probably different then in the U.S. But that means opportunity as well. Find a way to combine your skills.

• Go somewhere you didn’t expect to go — Many interviewed for this story wound up in a place they didn’t expect to go but also wound up loving their lives there.

• Use an agency — There are many agencies and opportunities online. Just be careful about which agency you use.

• Understand it’s going to be different — You left the U.S. to experience other cultures, so enjoy the differences and embrace them, even if that means changing the way you dress or act in public. Life overseas is a new adventure. Treat it that way.

—As told to Dan England by graduates
working abroad