I am an Admissions Advisor at ITA. As one of your first points of contact at ITA, I work side-by-side with you throughout the research and enrollment process as we create the foundation for you to work, travel, and live abroad!
My story starts in the small, Northwest Indiana town where I grew up. I was the only multiracial person in my family, and my town lacked diversity, so for the majority of my childhood, I was the only person I knew of that looked like me. Because of this, I always wanted to travel to Chicago. Chicago was a big, beautiful city of glistening skyscrapers filled with a variety of people and so many activities to do. My Mom would take me to Chicago a few weekends each month to hang out in her office while she worked. I was 6-years-old, but I recall looking out the window at the skyline and feeling so small as the structures towered over me. These were my first adventures.
I was the typical kid from Midwestern America. My family went on four big vacations during my youth: two visits to Wisconsin Dells, a road trip to Disney World, and a few days at SeaWorld in Ohio (pre-Blackfish documentary). I was raised by a single mom and we couldn’t spare money for yearly travel. Worldwide travel, in fact, was beyond my realm of imagination. It seemed so far from my grasp, I couldn’t fathom the idea of it ever becoming a possibility.
As my commencement date crept closer, the Peace Corps made an appearance at my university’s job fair. The representative provided me with a broad explanation of the global work achieved by Peace Corps volunteers. Unsure of which questions to ask, I took some pamphlets and read through them that evening. Prior to chatting with the Peace Corps representative, my only plan after graduation was to get an office job and show up at my desk - the same daily agenda of essentially everyone else I knew. It was a plan of safety and familiarity, but the idea of warming a desk every day nearly bored me to death. My interaction with the Peace Corps representative sparked a light within me that I didn’t know existed, and I knew I wanted to apply. I was overflowing with excitement because I finally had a post-graduation plan that fulfilled me.
Reiterating information I learned the day prior, I told one of my best friends about my plan to apply for the Peace Corps. She scoffed at the idea and said, “you aren’t the type of person that can do that.” The conversation ended and I suddenly envisioned two paths in front of me: to try or not to try. I would be a solo female traveler going into the Peace Corps. Not only that, but I was multiracial, plus-sized, LGBTQ+, and the weight of my wallet was significantly lighter than that of other world travelers. I had never even been on a plane before! Nothing about me fit society’s idea of what it was to be a world traveler, but I didn’t care. I knew my desires were bigger than anyone else’s opinion of what I could or couldn’t do; so I applied. Twelve months later, after a long application process, I was on my first flight ever with 57 other Peace Corps volunteers. Our final destination: Tbilisi, Georgia.
My decision to join the Peace Corps was the beginning of the most transformative experience I’d ever undergone as a person. I had never seen mountains before and suddenly I was surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains. My Georgian host family took me to Uplistsikhe, one of the oldest urban settlements in Georgia, where we walked through a 9th-century three-nave basilica. I befriended Georgian people, visited museums, climbed mountains, and attended a Russian circus. I became an English instructor and built rapport with my students and members of my community. Georgia turned me into a citizen of the world and suddenly I could see myself in more places than just my small Indiana town.
After finishing my time in Peace Corps Georgia, I moved to Zhengzhou, China where I taught conversational English at a competitive, private school. I loved my time in China and I stayed for over a year until the completion of my teaching contract. As my time in China came to a close, I accepted a position at the Chicago Tribune newspaper where I worked in the advertising department for three years. During my time in Chicago, I took ITA’s 11-week online TEFL course. I missed being in a classroom and living in a different culture, so I made plans to go back to East Asia to teach. In spring 2020, I departed for Uijeongbu, South Korea where I lived and worked as an English teacher at a private language academy.
I have been a resident in four countries, traveled through ten countries, and been a passenger on over 50 different airplanes. My decision to apply to the Peace Corps completely changed the direction of my life in the greatest way. I have also helped redefine what a global traveler looks like for people around the world. If you’ve made it this far in my story, here’s my advice: always choose to try. You never know what vibrant world lives beyond even your wildest dreams.
I was born in Michigan, but grew up in Northwest Indiana for the first 18 years of my life. I attended college at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.
When I departed for Peace Corps Georgia, it was my first time ever being on an airplane. I was impressed that the plane had TV screens in the backs of the headrests, so we were entertained with movies the entire flight. I had never seen technology like that before. We had been traveling for an entire day as we crossed the Black Sea and suddenly we were being welcomed by the lights of Georgia. It was early in the morning, but I could see the outlines of the Caucasus Mountains all around us. Being from Northwest Indiana, I had never before seen mountains, so this image will stick in my head forever. I remember thinking “wow, I’m actually here.” It was my first day of a whole new world.
Germany, Georgia, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Turkey, China, Mexico, South Korea, Canada, and the United States.
I did a stint in the Peace Corps where I taught English in Gori, Georgia. I spent over a year teaching conversational English in Zhengzhou, China; and an additional year and a half teaching English test prep at a private academy in Uijeongbu, South Korea.
I took a solo trip to Beijing one summer and I debated staying in a hotel or a hostel. A hostel would be more social and allow me to easily meet other travelers, so I booked a bed in a hostel. My bed was one of 14 in a large, shared room. My roommates: a group of European students celebrating their completion of university by taking a trip around Asia. They welcomed me into their group and we explored Beijing together: the Great Wall of China, Summer Palace, and Forbidden City were all on our agenda. One night we ate Peking duck for dinner, then danced the night away at various venues in a lively section of the city!
Mexican and Thai.
From the time I was a prospective student, I knew ITA was a special community with remarkable people. There aren’t enough words to convey how excited I am to work more directly with students as they build a path toward a life of teaching, travel, and global adventure. To spend my days surrounded by students and staff that appreciate lifelong learning, diverse cultures, worldwide travel, and hands-on experiences is my dream come true!
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