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SIT Propels Alum Towards Career In International Education

February 26, 2014

Today’s guest post comes to us from Jessica Tharp (AmeriCorps ’02), Asia Study Abroad Coordinator at the University of Colorado Denver’s Global Education Office.

SIT Graduate Institute is an education partner of AMERICORPS ALUMS and offers a $5,500 tuition match of the Segal award to enrolled AmeriCorps Alums.  During the 2013-2014 academic year, SIT awarded $93,182 in Ed Award matching scholarships to enrolled AmeriCorps Alums.


Right after I graduated from high school in 2001, I joined AmeriCorps NCCC. My team worked on a variety of projects: we constructed homes for Habitat for Humanity builds in Hawaii, acted as teaching assistants for an elementary school in California, worked as gardeners at a botanical garden in Oregon, were camp counselors at a camp for children and adults with disabilities, and served on the disaster relief team for the American Red Cross when a typhoon hit Guam. Through each project, I became more interested in issues around social justice, and learned how to collaborate with a diverse group of individuals. AmeriCorps inspired me to continue enacting positive change as well as develop the relevant skills, such as working as a team player, to actually contribute to this mission.

In the decade following my term in AmeriCorps, I continued to hone the skills I’d built in national service, before deciding to enroll in the SIT Masters in International Education program. When I started SIT, I had just returned from a year in Vietnam, where I taught English and advised Vietnamese high school students. Based on this experience, I knew I wanted to work in the field of international education. I only had a glimpse of the field I wanted to pursue while abroad, but at SIT I really learned the why, what, and how-to in International Education. SIT provides students with an educational experience deeply rooted in social justice, teamwork, and practical hands-on training. These skills had been introduced in AmeriCorps, and were further strengthened and expanded during my thorough and comprehensive training in SIT.

With the tools I gained at SIT’s Masters in International Education program in hand, I started an internship at the University of Colorado Denver’s Global Education Office. SIT had laid the necessary groundwork for me to succeed; I already knew the vernacular and important issues of the field, and could easily contribute to a conversation with other professionals. The internship eventually led to my current full time role as the Asia Study Abroad coordinator.

My experiences in AmeriCorps and SIT thoroughly prepared me for my career. I use the skills of teamwork, my passion for improving the world, and the academic knowledge acquired at SIT every day in my current job, and AmeriCorps and SIT had a large hand in this personal and professional development.

SIT Graduate Institute offers many benefits to AmeriCorps Alums. In addition to waiving the application fee, in the 2013-2014 academic year, current students received $115,225 from the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award. Additionally, SIT offers a match of this scholarship up to $5,500 during the alumnus’ first year in the program, and awarded $98,182 last year. SIT also awarded $25,000 to scholars that received the AmeriCorps/SIT Partnership competitive scholarship.

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