Where Are They Now? Susan Strand '01

September 23, 2014

Susan Strand

Susan is Senior English Language Fellow at the Programa de Idiomas at the Universidad de Talca in Talca, Chile.

What did you study at Simmons?

I graduated with a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language (MATESL)

What is a typical day like at your job?

On a typical day in my current position, I am meeting with colleagues to collaborate on various projects at the Universidad de Talca. My principle project is developing an undergraduate pedagogical program for English language teachers. This program will have its first intake of students in March 2015 at the Linares branch of U Talca. We are currently writing curricula for the program and planning strategies for the first year. Other projects I collaborate on include revising curriculum for the current English language program at U Talca, developing sustainable professional development program for English teachers at U Talca, and coaching individual teachers in the department. As an English Language Fellow, I also do a lot of outreach within the region. This includes offering training to public elementary and high school English language teachers and extracurricular cultural programs to English language students. I really love going out to local schools. The kids are enthusiastic and the teachers here are super hard working and caring about their students. They bring a lot of energy and ideas to our training sessions.

What was the job application process like for you?

The English Language Fellow Program is managed by Georgetown University (GU). The application process begins by first completing an online application and submitting the usual required documents such as college transcripts and letters of recommendation. During this application, candidates may express a preference for working in specific regions of the world and are asked to share their philosophies and experiences through personal essays. GU then follows up with an oral interview: in person, by phone or by Skype. Once GU has a sense of who the candidate is and what his/her goals are, they will try to match the candidate with one of the many educational projects that have been submitted by U.S. Embassies around the world.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Meeting so many fantastic people, from students to teachers, from neighbors to vendors selling kebabs on the street.

How did you know the organization was a good fit for you?

I had heard of the EL Fellow Program and liked the idea of being part of an exchange program at the university level. I also wanted to work in development. The EL Fellow Program fit the bill.

How did Simmons help prepare you for your career?

The MA TESL program at Simmons gave me a solid theoretical base in English language pedagogy. This has allowed me to successfully develop my own teaching style while giving me flexibility to tackle a wide variety of educational projects.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Teaching in Africa.

What advice would you give to the current Simmons undergraduate students?

Make the most of what your classes at Simmons. Use what you learn to do what you are passionate about.