Working with Families

Over the course of the last months, AUP has benefited from the support and generosity of students’ parents and families, who, though concerned about their student’s well-being and searching reassurance from the University, provided time, expertise and generosity to the University’s response. As well as being an AUP parent herself, Dana Callaghan is AUP’s Parent Relations Manager; here, she discusses how the University has maintained close ties with families throughout the confinement period.

How has the University supported parents and families during the Covid-19 pandemic?

From the early days of the crisis back in February, AUP worked to communicate quickly and transparently to parents, even as the situation evolved rapidly. Through daily communications from AUP President Celeste M. Schenck, our goal was to keep parents and families in the loop as the University received new information from the US embassy and French government sources and made fast decisions about the Spring semester.

We wanted parents to know that we were committed to making sure every student could finish the semester, and that student services, such as the library, guidance counselors and academic resources, were ready to help. I think this was reassuring to parents – I know it was to me and my husband! We kept an open invitation for all parents and families to contact Celeste, and we responded to every single email. That was a fun project for me, as I’ve been able to connect with lots of other parents of current AUP students. I know that having the ability to connect directly with the University was helpful to all families during this stressful time.

How have parents and families contributed to the University’s Covid-19 response?

The response from parents and families has been amazing – I want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out! The outpouring of support through email, calls and financial generosity has been heartening. Parents have repeatedly expressed their gratitude for the University’s swift and decisive response and for our regular communications as the situation evolved. We have also had great parent participation at our virtual events and look forward to continuing this program into the future.

How have you enjoyed your interactions with AUP students and family members throughout the crisis?

I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie with parents and families over the past few weeks. I share their concern: my son Andrew, who is finishing his sophomore year, has been living in a 15-square meter apartment for the past eight weeks. We didn’t think he’d spend so much time in his apartment when he rented it! We have had a lot of conversations – a LOT of conversations – about his time in Paris. I’ve also enjoyed my contact with other parents dealing with their children; I love the resilience and humor of parents and that we are all there to support one another as we get through this together.

As well as my role as Parent Relations Manager, I’ve also been a mentor for students who stayed in Paris throughout the crisis. It’s been delightful to hear from our students about how they have spent this time; I had a discussion with one of my mentees about the empty Paris streets that led to him getting up early and taking photos of the Trocadero at sunrise, which he shared with me and will keep as a memento of this time. 

As a parent of a prospective AUP student, you can reach out to Dana at any time by emailing