My hometown when I was a student was
I graduated in
Majors: French, Exercise & Health Science
I currently live in
I am now
Since graduating from Alma
I’ve mostly been working in education in one way or another. After returning from my Fulbright year in Benin (which focused on public health), I spent a year each teaching reading in an inner-city St. Louis elementary school through AmeriCorps and serving as a French and Spanish teacher (and tennis coach) at an old-money, private K-12 school in Raleigh, NC. After grad school and spending a summer in Cairo on a Boren Fellowship for Arabic study, I spent three years running education and cultural orientation programs for the Refugee Services Dept. of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of San Diego, at the time the busiest refugee-resettlement agency in the U.S.
In 2012, I left CCDSD to join the teaching and learning team within RTI International’s International Education Group. Since then I’ve been working as a project manager on USAID contracts focused on improving reading performance in the developing world. In the three years since I joined RTI I’ve spent two months in Liberia, three months in Malawi, and two months in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with additional work in Morocco and in support of projects in Peru, Nicaragua and Guatemala. I am currently based in Lilongwe, Malawi, where I serve as the Deputy Chief of Party for a $24 million USAID contract working with more than 10,000 teachers and over 700,000 students across nearly 1,600 schools.
My Alma education
provided me the flexibility to explore many of my academic interests. At the time, I wanted to pursue a career in international development by eventually joining Doctors Without Borders (MSF) after medical school. So I took the EHS pre-med track with a Chemistry minor as my “real” coursework and added on the French major “just for fun.” In the end, of course, it was my strong background in French which best prepared me for the year I spent doing public health work in Benin and helped me get my first “real” job out of college, teaching French at a private school. My French also came in handy while working with Haitian asylum-seekers and Congolese refugees and opened the door for my first project management gig at RTI, a research project in the DRC.
I never felt any pressure to choose between the two interests while at Alma, which is something I appreciated even at the time. I also had the freedom to explore other interests, such as singing with the Alma Choir, writing for the Almanian, and sports, through the men’s tennis team and various IM sports. The breadth of opportunities encouraged me to dabble in many things, and to not be afraid of trying my hand at mastering new tasks. That willingness to adapt, to learn new skills and to not fear failure has been the single most critical component in my post-college success…and it was nurtured at Alma. I should also mention that Alma also gave me an opportunity to learn some humility back before I had learned the difference between having a surface command of a topic and truly understanding it.
My favorite place(s) on campus included
the rock wall and volleyball courts at the Stone Rec Center; the Chapel (for Alma Choir rehearsals); the cadaver dissection laboratory in the EHS building.
My favorite professors(s) included
Drs. Julie Arnold, John Davis and Will Nichols.
My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is
singing with the Alma Choir – welcoming back the alumni for the Homecoming concert, singing in the Festival of Carols every year, road-tripping over spring break, touring Scotland my sophomore Spring Term, Masterworks concerts including Haydn’s Creation and Handel’s Messiah and hearing Doc sing “Danny Boy” every St. Patrick’s day.
My off-campus study experience(s) included
several trips. My freshman year I joined Dr. Julie Arnold’s “Paris in May” spring term course. There’s really no better way to get to know Paris than through four hours of language lessons at the Alliance Française every morning followed by four hours of walking tours during which Dr. Arnold would introduce us to the history of the art, architecture and sites that we’d visit. Her enthusiasm was incredibly infectious; I’d never previously (nor have ever since) had a particular inclination toward or appreciation of art—but for that month I was utterly captivated.
I also sang with the Alma Choir in Scotland during the ’02 Spring Term tour, which was amazing. We were honored guests at a ceilidh thrown by the Taynuilt Gaelic Choir (who were very generous in forgiving how badly we butchered the pronunciation of the Scots Gaelic songs we tried to learn); we all got to sing Loch Lomond while on a boat on Loch Lomond and we got to treat the tourists visiting the Isle of Iona to an impromptu concert while visiting the Abbey.
My junior Spring Term was spent mostly at 12,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains as part of EHS’ Altitude Physiology course. Days were split between ultimate Frisbee in eight feet of snow, snowshoeing, reading and discussing journal articles on a sun-drenched patio and even an overnight camping trip along a ridgeline. (A storm came in that night…coldest night of my life.)
I spent the summer after my senior Spring Term studying abroad in Nice, France. I spent the summer taking courses at the Alliance Française, preparing for the DELF and writing my senior thesis. It was a wonderful way to spend three months, and I would recommend it to anyone.