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ITEP | Student Profiles

Layla Allahverdi

Undergraduate University: George Mason University
Experience Abroad: Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Spain, Switzerland, France
Professional Experience: ASCD: Manager, Constituent Programs

Layla is a Manager, Constituent Programs at ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. She completed her Bachelors of Arts at George Mason University, majoring in global affairs with an emphasis in global governance. She has studied abroad in Spain, Switzerland, and France. Layla has surveyed international non-governmental organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. She is currently pursuing the global education concentration in AU’s International Training and Education Program.

Maria Barra

Undergraduate University: SUNY Binghamton
Experience Abroad: Austria, Germany, Global
Professional Experience: Program Specialist for the Key Executive Leadership program at AU

Maria Barra is originally from Setawket, NY. Her passion for international education began when she studied abroad in Austria with Rotary International. In college, Maria studied abroad with University of Virginia's Semester at Sea program. This exchange gave her the opportunity to explore various regions in the world. After graduation, Maria worked in Germany as an Au-Pair. These international excursions combined with experience working in international non-profit organizations ultimately led to her decision in applying to the ITEP program at American University. She hopes to gain the tools, education and support to continue her path towards working in the international education field.


Rachel Carter

Undergraduate University: North Carolina State University
Experience Abroad: Argentina, Panama
Professional Experience: Young Adult Service Corps, Episcopal Campus Ministry, Urban Adventure Squad

Rachel is originally from Wilmington, North Carolina. She first became interested in international exchange and study abroad during undergrad at NC State, when she studied abroad for a semester in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After graduating with a BA in International Studies and Minor in Spanish, she decided to join the Young Adult Service Corps and was stationed in Panama City, Panama for one year. In Panama, she taught Religion and Ancient and Modern World History, as well as serving as a leader of monthly mission trips. After ITEP, she hopes to work for study abroad or a job involving international exchange.

Jody Dixon

Undergraduate University: University of the West Indies, Jamaica
Experience Abroad: Jamaica, Japan, United States of America
Professional Experience: Program Associate Intern, American Association of State Colleges and Universities – Global Initiatives/International Education Office; Program Assistant, Pre-College Programs, School of International Service at AU; Graduate Assistant – Recruitment and Advising at AU; Assistant Language Teacher (ESL) – Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET).

Jody is a second year ITEPer, and the current Graduate Assistant representing the ITEP program. A native of Jamaica, her interest in international education began while working as a Guest Services Director for one of the Caribbean’s most prestigious resort chains. Constant interactions with the resorts’ guests engendered a curiosity for cultural interactions outside of her home country. This curiosity led her to become a Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program participant. While living and working in a small rural town in Japan, as an English language instructor, Jody realized that education fostered through cultural exchanges was what she wanted to focus her energies and invest her time and efforts in. She is most interested in designing programs that will allow individuals, particularly students at the secondary level to experience cultural exchanges in domestic settings, by leveraging domestic international communities. Though her focus seemingly lies within the boundaries of the International Exchange and Study Abroad concentration offered by ITEP, her sights are set on internationalization in higher education as a conduit to higher levels of international development in her home country. The ITEP program has certainly provided the foundation she has needed to mobilize her plans, and has facilitated the development of her action plan, as it relates to the flexibility of the options of courses and opportunities offered across schools on the American University campus.

Cara Eandi

Undergraduate University: Lewis & Clark College, Portland OR
Experience Abroad: Mongolia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
Professional Experience: Country Desk Officer, Peace Corps; Training Technician, Peace Corps; Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Peace Corps/Mongolia; Study Abroad Assistant Leader, Lewis & Clark College

Cara is a first year ITEP student concentrating on international development. She works at Peace Corps Headquarters as a Country Desk Officer representing posts in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. She previously worked as a Training Technician in Peace Corps' Staging Unit where she facilitated 35 pre-departure orientations and trained over a thousand volunteers. Prior to working at Peace Corps Headquarters, Cara served as an Education and Community Development Volunteer with Peace Corps/Mongolia. In her second year of service, Cara managed a US Embassy grant project providing educational opportunities to marginalized student and was invited to be a technical trainer for 80 incoming Volunteers. Cara graduated with departmental honors from Lewis & Clark College with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology/Sociology and interdisciplinary focus on Gender Studies. As an undergraduate, Cara participated in a study abroad program to East Africa where she researched the effects of changing legislation on women's rights. Cara originally hails from Boulder, Colorado.

Kwame Gayle

Undergraduate University: Macalester College, St Paul, MN
Experience Abroad: South Africa, Japan, Botswana, Jamaica
Professional Experience: ESL Teacher, History/Geography Teacher, Residential Director

Kwame was born and raised in Jamaica. He was born in Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, but grew up in a rural town in Mandeville. After high school, he attended Macalester College, where he completed a BA in Anthropology with a concentration in African Studies and a minor in American Studies. In his junior year, he studied abroad in Johannesburg, South Africa through the NYU: Tisch School of the Arts program called "Arts and Culture in Post-Apartheid South Africa". After graduation, he spent two years teaching English in Japan, after which he undertook the role of a Princeton in Africa Fellow, teaching history and geography for a year at an independent school in Botswana. Following this, he returned to Jamaica and taught ESL to Venezuelan engineers on short-term exchange through the Petro-Caribe Agreement. Kwame started the ITEP program as it seemed like the perfect fit as he journeys towards the next step of career growth. He is currently interested in working with international students as it relates to admissions and on-campus experiences. He is also interested in possibly earning a professional TESOL certificate, and in researching the experiences of international students who choose to return home after studying abroad.

Katie Gehron

Undergraduate University: The College of William & Mary
Experience Abroad: Burkina Faso, Senegal, Tanzania, Madagascar
Professional Experience: Peace Corps Volunteer, Catholic Relief Services

After spending over half her life in Sub-Saharan Africa, Katie Gehron went to William and Mary to study international relations and Francophone studies where she got the opportunity to study abroad in both France and Senegal. For the past three years, Katie has served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso, West Africa. She spent the first two years of her service co-leading trainings for community members on subjects from income generating activities, like tofu and liquid soap, to improving activities in the community-based preschool. In her third year, she worked in the Catholic Relief Services office to assist the implementation of capacity building programs in over 800 schools in Burkina Faso.

Katie is looking forward to the opportunity to improve her skills and academic knowledge during her time in the ITEP program. Her interests lie in international training with a focus on doing non-formal adult education trainings on food security topics in Sub-Saharan Africa.

John Daniel Gore (JD)

Undergraduate University: Michigan State University
Experience Abroad: Belize, Palestine/Israel
Professional Experience: Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, Methodist Federation for Social Action, American University

John Daniel Gore (JD) is from a village in Michigan. His current research interest is in social and civic identity, especially lensed by racial dynamics, and how these systems of phenomena interact with curricula. Accordingly, he is also interested in linguistic differences and how these contribute to identity-politics and power among youth. Of many career possibilities, he would most like to work to ensure equitable access to an impactful education. JD left West Michigan for Bethlehem in 2011 to work for seventeen months with a Palestinian community organization called “Wi’am”. He has visited Ireland, Jordan, and Hong Kong and attended conferences on migration and peacebuilding in Switzerland and the Philippines, respectively. During his time at Michigan State University he spent a month studying sociology at Galen University in San Ignacio, Belize. JD has demonstrated in front of the White House for an end to solitary confinement, the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison facilities, and to raise awareness about human rights violations in occupied Palestine. He enjoys playing the trumpet, improvised theater, and writing.

Dianna Leonard

Undergraduate University: Salisbury University
Experience Abroad: Canada, England, France, Italy, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland
Professional Experience: Higher education advising

Dianna is a native of Maryland. During her undergrad at Salisbury University, she studied abroad at University College Cork in Cork, Ireland. After returning, she knew that she wanted to be involved in international education. She earned her BA in English: Creative Writing with minors in History and Ethnic and Intercultural Studies from Salisbury in 2008. After graduating, she worked as an academic advisor at University of Maryland University College. In 2011, Dianna completed her MSc in European Studies at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland. She wrote her dissertation on the European study abroad program, ERASMUS. Currently, Dianna works as a financial aid counselor at AU.Dianna will be focusing on the international education exchange track. Upon completion of the program, she would like to work in study abroad or international student advising.

Keeratiphen (Rose) Mekdussadeerom

Undergraduate University: School of International Service, American University
Experience Abroad: Bangkok, Baltimore, Beijing
Professional Experience: Global Journalist Security (cross-cultural training program design), Lutheran Social Services (refugee advocacy), STARTALK National Security Language Initiative (Chinese language teaching assistant)

Rose was introduced to international education at a very young age, and with that, her intercultural awareness became an automatic by-product. In Bangkok, Thailand, she first attended a Thai-English bilingual kindergarten prior to enrolling in a British international school and later switched to an American one. After moving to the United States during high school, she found herself in the Baltimore County Public Schools system. Prior to transferring to American University, she studied abroad in Bejing, China while she was a community college student.

Her encounters with various models of international education over the years combined with her experience as a victim of racial discrimination during her time at a U.S. public high school – one that was far less diverse compared to her former educational institutions – deeply instilled in her a sense of respect for diversity as well as a passionate commitment to the cause of international education.

Upon recently discovering the existence of International Education as a career field, she instinctively knew that pursuing this path would not only allow her to give back to those who have taught and supported her along her journey, but also help her actively contribute to a society with more open-minded, less ignorant and more understanding global citizens. As she prepares to embark on this new life chapter through ITEP, she desires to explore the following topics in greater depth: education and identity formation, global competency/citizenship education, internationalizing
education, education in ASEAN, educational equity, human rights and education, and finally, cross-cultural training.

Jacquelynn Leyvas

Undergraduate University: University of North Carolina
Experience abroad: South Korea and China
Professional Experience: ESL teacher

Jacquelynn has always been interested in anything international. In high school she was a part of the International Studies program and began learning Chinese in her senior year of high school. When she arrived at UNC, she double majored in Spanish and International Studies with a minor in Chinese. She also studied in Beijing in the summer of 2010. After graduating college, she found herself teaching in South Korea, China and later Charlotte, NC.She enjoys teaching but has realized exactly what she wants to do, and as such has enrolled as a student in the ITEP program, as she believes that the program will facilitate this. Her intent with this degree is to become a study abroad program coordinator at a university. Whether that's here in the US or in another country, who knows!

Rebecca Moyer

Undergraduate University: University of Washington
Experience Abroad: Spain, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey,  Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary
Professional Experience: Resource Teacher at National Child Research Center

Rebecca Moyer is from Seattle, Washington. She attended the University of Washington, graduating in 2011 with a dual Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and English Language and Literature. While attending UW, Rebecca spent a year abroad in Cádiz, Spain and a semester in London, England. After graduation, Rebecca returned to Spain to teach English in a rural village primary school as an Auxiliar de Conversación. While in Spain, she decided to pursue a career in education and was accepted into the Resident Teaching program at University Child Development School in Seattle. Her academic interests lie in the realm of global education, focusing on the impact of linguistic and language differences on the learning process. Her goal is to work internationally, training teachers in progressive teaching methods and learning strategies. 

Gregory Rafal

Undergraduate University: Christopher Newport University
Experience Abroad: Spain
Professional Experience: Resources Coordinator for the International Legal Studies Program at
American University Washington College of Law

Greg received his BA in Spanish from Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA. Upon graduation, he accepted a one-year fellowship to work in student affairs at his alma mater. Currently, Greg serves as the Resources Coordinator for the International Legal Studies Program at American University's law school. In this role, he works with the LL.M. admissions process, supports the legal language programs, and serves as a general resource for students. Greg is pursuing a MA in International Training and Education with a concentration in International Exchange in order to work with study abroad programs in higher education.

Lindsay VanBrocklin

Undergraduate University: Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Experience Abroad: Austria, Kenya, Italy, MyanmarProfessional Experience: Orientation Coordinator, Intercultural Programs Coordinator, & Student Advisor, ISSS at AU; Consultant, Gold Standard Enterprises; Study Abroad Administrative Assistant, Center for International Education at SIUC; Volunteer Service Member, AmeriCorps

Lindsay’s passion for International Education began at Southern Illinois University where she earned a BA in Political Science with a concentration in International Affairs. As an ISEP exchange student, Lindsay studied Human Rights and International Law for one year at the Karl-Franzens-Universität in Graz, Austria. She also completed minors in History and African Studies by participating in a faculty-led summer program in Kenya. After graduating from SIUC in 2012, Lindsay spent a summer traveling in Europe and working as an au pair in Südtirol, Italy. Before joining ITEP and moving to Washington, DC, Lindsay spent two years studying viticulture as a wine specialist and product consultant. She currently works in the International Student and Scholar Services office at AU coordinating orientation and intercultural student programming, as well as front-line immigration advising. Lindsay’s favorite aspect of ITEP is the focus on sociocultural foundations of education as they relate to economics, history, politics, philosophy, and sociology. In order to translate the classroom into practice, Lindsay has volunteered as a TALK dialogue facilitator and participated in an AU Alternative Break trip to Myanmar that visited community-based organizations while exploring the intersection of non-formal education, curriculum, and democracy. After graduating from ITEP, Lindsay hopes to continue facilitating intercultural learning experiences for both domestic and international students.

Kiri Stevenson

Undergraduate University: Queen's University
Experience Abroad: Guatamala, Dominican Republic, Ecuador 
Professional Experience: Professional Development/Training

Kiri Stevenson is the Associate Manager of Professional Development at the International Baccalaureate and a graduate student of the International Training and Education Program at American University. Kiri earned her BA in Political Science from Queen's University in Canada. Her focus on youth and international development to a volunteer opportunity in Guatamala before returning to DC to work with the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital as a Training Specialist. In 2009, Kiri pursued her interest in international development by serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. Kiri has worked with the International Baccalaureate since 2012 and enjoys supporting schools and educators in implementing a rigorous and globally-minded curriculum. This line of work has further developed her desire to study international education and work to promote sustainable education programming in developing countries.

Pamela Vanias

Undergraduate University: Meredith College
Experience Abroad: Greece, China, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda
Professional Experience: Teaching, Curriculum Development, Project Management

Originally from Richmond, VA, Pamela earned a Bachelor's degree from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. During her undergraduate studies, she studied abroad in Greece which sparked a passion for international education. Upon graduating she moved to China, where she taught at an elementary international school for three years, but soon realized her heart was in development. With this, she decided to move to South Africa where she worked in curriculum development and project management for an NGO in a township school. She later moved to Kenya, where she worked at a school for children with disabilities. While there, she collaborated with teachers and school leaders to develop holistic learning programs for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Additionally, she spent a short time living in Uganda where she worked with a grassroots level family run school where she developed a physical education program. Now, as an ITEP student, she is using her experiences abroad to tie together theory and practice. She is looking forward to doing further research as it relates to internationalizing US curriculum in elementary schools and global education and development.

Jessica White

Undergraduate University: Northeastern University
Post-Graduate University: DePaul University, Master of Education
Experience Abroad: Switzerland, France, Austria, China, Thailand
Professional Experience: ESL Teacher, Academic Manager

After high school, Jessica left the wide-open front range of Colorado for the urban neighborhoods of Boston, Massachusetts on a 17-year-old’s quest to prove that the grass must really be greener on the other side. After a four year battle to find herself finally comfortable in that environment, she set off for Geneva, Switzerland on an internship with the United Nations where she was assigned to research and development projects concerning disarmament and weapons control, but found herself drawn more to the NGOs concerned with community development and education. She therefore returned to the States to study education, and in particular, its impact on underprivileged urban and at-risk families. Seeking international teaching experience to help to solidify her findings, she spent 3 years in China and Southeast Asia where she finally found a path worth following in education development. Jessica now hopes to use her findings to serve the communities that helped her grow, and knows that ITEP will be the ultimate foundation from which to do so.