USA STAFF FOR TBB’S GAP YEAR PROGRAMS
Thinking Beyond Borders is fortunate to have a talented and committed USA staff to offer support to students, family, and the Program Leaders. Their tireless work helps to ensure the safety, quality, and success of TBB’s gap year programs abroad.
All roads in Robin’s life lead to co-founding Thinking Beyond Borders. Born and raised near San Francisco, he discovered at an early age that youth can affect the disparities and challenges of our world. Robin also learned the need to truly understand a problem before proactive changes can be made. He sees Thinking Beyond Borders as the actualization of those lessons.
Robin equipped himself by earning a B.A. in International Development Studies from UCLA and a Masters in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has lived and worked abroad including a semester of research in Cochabamba, Bolivia and leading a conservation program in Costa Rica. His travels introduced him to the peoples and geography of southern and western Africa, Europe, and South America.
He spent ten years working and teaching in public schools where he challenged students to question their assumptions about themselves and the world. In addition, experiences administering youth programs of all sizes endow him with extensive management and supervision skills. Robin continues walking this road of learning and teaching. His goal is to empower future leaders who will create proactive change as a result of their travels with Thinking Beyond Borders.
Andrea graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College of the Holy Cross, earning a Bachelor’s degree in history and Italian. She has lived, worked, and studied abroad in Italy on several different occasions, including studying history and art history at the University of Florence. Before joining Thinking Beyond Borders, Andrea worked in Italy for a private educational tour company as a Travel Leader with a high school student summer program. In 2007, she was a finalist for the Fulbright Teaching Assistantship Program. These experiences abroad have inspired Andrea to work in international education. Additionally, Andrea has had a passion for volunteering and service work since high school. While attending Holy Cross, Andrea was a program director for the SPUD (Student Programs for Urban Development) organization. She coordinated an after-school tutoring group for which she earned the Worcester, Massachusetts UniverCity Partnership Award for College Student Community Engagement. In addition, Andrea was the recipient of Holy Cross’ Study Abroad Scholarship and the Charles A. Dana Scholarship for sound academic ability and demonstration of qualities of character and leadership. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in International Education at New York University.
Working for TBB is the perfect combination is Stephen’s academic, professional and personal interests. Having graduated from the University of Warwick in 2005 with a degree in Politics and International Studies, he spent 6 months volunteering in rural Nicaragua. There he discovered his passion for learning about other cultures and whet his appetite for discovering more about international development. Leaving Nicaragua almost fluent in la lengua española, he returned to London where he graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies with a Masters degree in Development Studies in 2007.
Stephen worked for Fundación Yanapuma – one of TBB’s partner organizations in Ecuador – first as a leader of volunteer groups in remote communities across the country, and then overseeing the foundation’s volunteer and internship programs out of their Quito office. His time in Ecuador grounded him with a wealth of experience in designing programs to best utilize the skills of student volunteer groups and building partnerships with local communities. Having seen many aspects of community development in Ecuador – from placing trainee midwives in hospitals on the coast to helping build chicken coops in the Amazon – Stephen set off as a Program Leader for TBB’s 2009-10 Global Gap Year Program, both teaching and learning about international development in equal measure. After a brief stint back in the UK working for the international arm of one of the UK’s most prominent climate change campaigns, Stephen returned to TBB in spring 2011 to work as Director of Programming, overseeing the development and implementation of TBB’s gap year and semester programs.
Traveling around Southeast Asia during and after university, Scott saw a world vastly different from the Colorado town he called home. He followed his interest in cross-cultural experiences to a semester at the University of Vietnam-Hanoi, and a BA in Japanese and Asian Studies in 2004 from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He immediately jumped headlong into a teaching position with the JET Program where he taught at a high school in Nagasaki, Japan for three years where he discovered a passion for teaching.
In 2008, Scott pursued his interest in international development by entering Tokyo’s Waseda University Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies. There he had the opportunity to study with a broad multi-cultural student body and obtain his MA in International Relations with a focus on Development Anthropology. He wrote a thesis about how international NGOs can better apply local cultural values and norms in the Philippines to improve the outcomes of environmental conservation projects for all parties. Working with Thinking Beyond Borders, Scott combines his interests in teaching, travel, and development to aid students in becoming agents of positive change. He served for two years as a Program Leader for the Global Gap Year program before joining the US staff as the Recruitment Director.
Michela is a graduate of the University of Chicago with an A.B. in Comparative Human Development with a concentration on Cultural Studies. Her interest in the mental and cultural development that transpires between the ages of 18 and 25 led her to conduct research in the United Kingdom and the United States. Michela has always been an avid reader and had the opportunity to study English History, Culture, and Literature in England. During her time at the University of Chicago, Michela held a post in the admissions office as an interviewer for prospective students. This past summer, Michela was Operations Coordinator for Lead America’s Johns Hopkins University Medicine conference.
Having a strong interest in philanthropic projects, Michela has worked with several organizations in positions such as elementary school tutor, environmental community organizer and Secretary/P.R. for cultural organizations. Her experiences with the Neighborhood Schools Program in Chicago’s inner-city schools and the Texas Campaign for the Environment showed her that making a difference in the lives of others is achievable with dedication and passion. She views teaching others about TBB as an opportunity to change lives for the better. She also enjoys an active role in the arts through choreography, dance, choir, and supporting arts organizations in her hometown.
Greer and Thinking Beyond Borders are a match made in non-profit heaven. This lifelong learner with a Master’s degree in education, six years of non-profit experience, and an incessant travel bug that won’t quit, fell in love with TBB at first site.
Greer struggled in college and switched both her major and her school, which led her on a journey from the University of Vermont to SUNY Purchase where she finished her BA in 2009. It was Greer’s love of working with children and all things creative that took her to Manhattanville College where she earned a MAT. Simultaneously, Greer worked at a non-profit after school program tutoring, leading creative clubs, and playing on the playground with students. Born and raised just half an hour outside of New York City, Greer has had opportunities to work with students of all different kinds of backgrounds and ages.
After finishing school in 2012, Greer took off on a solo back packing trip to South America where she discovered her true passion for travel. She continued to explore Latin America while leading Spanish immersion programs for a teen travel company in Costa Rica. As a recruitment coordinator, Greer most enjoys meeting and talking with students about what we can do together as proactive agents of change.
Gary has dedicated himself for over 25 years to helping college-aged students to maximize their potential and overcome barriers to learning. His clinical specialties have included stress management, mood and anxiety disorders and life coaching/mentoring.
He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. After completing his graduate work in Counseling Psychology at the State University of New York at Albany, Gary felt a need to “internationalize” his experience and was hired to work for the Semester at Sea program, mentoring students as they visited eleven countries on this around-the-world shipboard voyage of discovery. For Gary, Semester at Sea cemented his interest in intercultural learning and he found applications for this interest in his subsequent positions including a stint as a Foreign Student Advisor in Keystone College in Pennsylvania.
Gary has served in a variety of professional counseling roles in several university and college settings and currently holds the post of Director of Counseling at Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, a position he has enjoyed for the last sixteen years. At Hartwick, he assists students during study abroad experiences to negotiate the numerous challenges they face as they confront cultural environments different than their own. He is licensed as a mental health counselor in two states and is board certified nationally.
Gary finds his consulting work with TBB to be a perfect environment to ply his skills by training, advising, and supporting TBB’s Program Leaders in their work with students. As an advocate for cultural immersion and a true believer in the life-changing impact overseas travel and education can have on a young person, Gary has found no better program than TBB for gap year students.