When I was eight years old, I stumbled across a playground bully mocking a student in the brand new Special Needs class.  I broke into the small circle that had formed around the two kids and passionately declared that everyone deserved the same amount of respect.  I introduced myself to the student and led him back to the Special Education class.  After meeting the other students, I found that I really connecting with them; I sought them out every day during recess, volunteered as a very junior T.A. during their summer school program, and eventually was awarded the right to skip some of my own classes to do Hooked on Phonics with them.  That was the beginning of my love for literacy and helping those who do not have the same privileges or opportunities that so many others take for granted. 


At Washington University in St. Louis where I received my BA, there were no courses offered in International Education or International Development.  I knew nothing about the field, and imagined I would pursue a career in psychology or special education.  However, when I went to the Dominican Republic through the Peace Corps, I learned about a whole new area which was simultaneously fascinating, enriching, and rewarding.  In the mountain town where I was sent, there were no programs set up for kids with special needs.  Most of the children who couldn’t learn at the same pace as everyone else dropped out of school after 3rd grade, and kids with more serious developmental problems were not welcomed into the education system.  Focusing on the serious and far-reaching problem of literacy, I worked hard to train teachers in better methodology, and also started a pull-out program for struggling students.  Eventually, there was so much enthusiasm in the community for the project that we formed a committee and opened a public school for kids with learning disabilities and delays, as well as more profound special needs.


Although I absolutely loved my experience in the Dominican Republic, it also taught me how much more I have to learn.  I am so thrilled to be here at CIE to have access to such a wealth of knowledgeable faculty and other students- many of whom have already achieved more than I could dream of.


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CIE Graduate