What do alums do with a Swarthmore Education Studies degree/background/credentials?
Classroom teacher and educational activist
Educational Studies and English special major
9th semester teaching certificate
Kathleen Melville ’04 was a special major in English and Educational Studies and completed teacher certification at Swarthmore in the 9th semester several years after graduating. For Kathleen, the Swarthmore Education courses that have stayed with her the most are Adolescence, Urban Ed, and Intro to Ed. Her time in the Swarthmore Ed department is important to her to this day; she still draws support from the readings and theories she learned here in addition to Ed Department alumni with whom she has kept in touch.
After graduating from Swarthmore, Kathleen taught for two years at a private school in Guatemala, followed by one year at Delaware Valley Friends School in Paoli, PA. As of 2014, she is working on her Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Pennsylvania and began her fourth teaching job at The Workshop School, a small project-based school in the School District of Philadelphia, where she teaches English. In addition to her teaching career, Kathleen co-founded an education nonprofit called Teachers Lead Philly, a network of teachers seeking to create educational change in Philadelphia.
Kathleen suggests that students form relationships with teachers, teacher organizations, and schools in Philadelphia, and connect what they are learning in class to what is happening on the ground in the city.
Educational Studies and Political Science honors special major
Social studies teaching certificate
Nelson Flores ‘03 was an honors special major in Political Science and Educational Studies and completed teacher certification at Swarthmore. For Nelson, the most formative Education courses were Intro to Ed, Adolescence, and Social and Cultural Perspectives on Education.
Following graduation, Nelson taught ESL for three years, first at an elementary school in Philadelphia and then at a high school in New York City. He has his Master’s in TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and a Ph.D. in Urban Education. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor in Educational Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses for Master’s students pursuing degrees in TESOL and Intercultural Communication as well as Ph.D. students pursuing degrees in Educational Linguistics. He also conducts research related to the history of bilingual education in Philadelphia and in the nation as a whole.
For students considering education as a career, Nelson highly recommends pursuing teacher certification at Swarthmore, because not all education programs are as critical, social-justice oriented, and supportive as the one at Swarthmore. He also strongly recommends completing a senior thesis, as he frequently goes back to it even as a professor in his field.
Actress and Director
Educational Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies special major
Hofan Chau ’03 graduated from Swarthmore with a special major in Education and Peace and Conflict Studies and decided not to pursue teacher certification. The year after she graduated, Hofan worked as a Research Assistant in a University Education Department, where she compiled examplars of “Good English Practices” to share with local schools. Although this meant a lot of time sitting in an office, it also meant a lot of time spent in the field interviewing teachers, which she really enjoyed.
After this job, Hofan’s career turned toward theater; she went to performing arts schools in Paris and London. Her career is now focused on theater and her own company, Burnt Mango Dance Theater. When she is not performing or directing, however, she works for the University of Hong Kong, where she is a tutor for the undergraduate course “Reflecting on the Human Experience Through Literature.” Each of her eight tutorial groups contain sixteen of the 100+ students in the class.
Hofan believes that when it comes to teaching, the most important thing is that you don’t settle for less and are truly satisfied with your working environment. Although she admits that the first year is always a steep learning curve, she reminds future teachers to never lose touch with why they love teaching in the first place. For Hofan, this is why she decided to teach outside of the local school system at a university, where she can focus more on teaching and less on classroom management. She also emphasizes the importance of a sabbatical, which gives much-needed time for teachers to learn and grow.
Economics major, Educational Studies minor
9th semester elementary teacher certification
Christopher Loeffler ’04 graduated from Swarthmore as an Economics major and Educational Studies minor. The Teaching Diverse Young Learners course inspired him to teach elementary school. After graduating, Chris taught at the Chigwell School in London as part of the William Penn Fellowship. Chris did his student teaching at the Wilmington-Friends school in the 9th semester program at Swarthmore. In addition to teaching a core third grade classroom, he also is the third grade math teacher and the Social Studies Committee Clerk, which has let him guide the development of the social studies curriculum for Pre-K to 5th grade. Chris completed his Master’s in Education at Arcadia University, with a concentration in Curriculum Studies.
Chris believes that it is extremely important to find communities of educators that can help you to find new ways to inspire learners and improve your teaching. For Chris, this takes the form of Edcamps, professional development opportunities that are created for and run by teachers.
Educational Studies and Psychology special major
Katie Hutchinson graduated from Swarthmore as a special major in Educational Studies and Psychology. One of her favorite classes at Swarthmore’s was the honors Seminar, Social and Cultural Perspectives on Education; she says that the intensity and quality of the discussions that took place there are her benchmark for academic coursework. At Swarthmore, Katie quickly learned that classroom teaching wasn’t for her; she got too frustrated dealing with groups of rowdy kids and preferred working one-on-one. Her senior thesis drew on her study abroad work in reproductive health in Nepal, and after leaving Swarthmore, Katie pursued her Masters in Nursing to become a nurse midwife. After four years of working as a midwife in Massachusetts, she started to work abroad with Doctors Without Borders. Since 2009, she has worked in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Sudan, and Chad, and is now in Haiti, where she is researching the risk factors for women with pregnancy complications in Haiti’s capital, Port au Prince.
Several years into working with Doctors without Borders, Katie started a Doctorate in Public Health. Although Katie decided not to pursue teaching directly, she has found the theories and principles of education she learned at Swarthmore to be very useful to her career as a midwife, as it helped her to train other midwives all over the world. Although she had no idea where she wanted to end up when she began at Swarthmore, the Education department helped her to find a wonderful career.
Director of Service Learning
Educational Studies and Psychology special major
9th semester teacher certification
Natania graduated from Swarthmore with a special major in Education and Psychology, as well as her teacher’s certification, obtained through the ninth semester program. For Natania, all the classes she took at Swarthmore have stayed with her, including Introduction to Education and Education Psychology. After her ninth semester, Natania spent six months working as a boarding instructor at the SEED Public Charter School of Washington, D.C. before fulfilling her desire to gain experience in an international educational setting by becoming an early childhood teacher at the American School of Milan. After three years, she pursued a dual Masters program in Early Childhood Education at Bank Street College of Education, and Clinical Social Work with Children and Families at Columbia University School of Social Work. Since then, she has held a variety of positions with the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services (JBFCS), where she continues to work in addition to her job as Director of Service Learning at Brooklyn Friends School. At the Friends school, Natania works collaboratively with faculty, students, parents, and administration to organize and implement community-wide service initiatives and develop a strategic plan for the school’s service program that reflects the school’s community values. She also teaches a 10th grade “Service and Justice” Seminar, works with Upper School students on their service projects, and oversees the International Baccalaureate CAS projects conducted in 11th and 12th grade. She sees her role at the school as multi-faceted, inspiring, challenging, and dynamic.
For those pursuing education at Swarthmore, Natania suggests exploring their professional interests and gaining some experience before pursuing graduate school, and staying connected with Swarthmore Education faculty and alumni so that you can talk to them about the paths that they have taken. Natania really valued her time at Swarthmore and the way in which the Department of Educational Studies enhanced her capacity to recognize, understand, and address the impact of race, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender, nationality, language, age, and socioeconomic status on interactions between young people, parents, and educators.
Marketing and Business
Educational Studies and Political science honors special major
Secondary social studies certification
Jeremy Schifeling ’03 graduated from Swarthmore with an honors special major in Education and Political Science and a concentration in Public Policy. He received his teacher’s certification while at Swarthmore. For Jeremy, Intro to Education was the class that whetted his appetite for Education, while Educational Psychology and Urban Education showed him what was possible.
The year after graduation, Jeremy student taught at Swarthmore-Rutledge School before becoming a permanent sub teaching kindergarten in Primos. He then moved to New York City and spent a year recruiting corps members for Teach for America while waiting for his certification to transfer. Finally, in his third year, he took a position teaching kindergarten at Uncommon Schools in Brooklyn, the first all-boys charter school in the country.
Since then, he has attained his MBA from University of Michigan, sourced and vetted candidates for Echoing Green, a group that funds social entrepreneurs, and built out a social enterprise business for iMentor, a technology-driven mentoring program in NYC that had the goal of expanding its model to other nonprofits and schools. He also interned for Apple’s iOS team and worked as the Senior Product Marketing Manager of LinkedIn, where he helped students around the world to build their careers.
Jeremy’s advice for students in the Education department is to remember that education does not you into a specific job or path; think of it as background that provides training for a number of roles. He also suggests that you savor your time at Swat, because you’ll never again have so much time to sit and contemplate the biggest questions about education and society.
Educational Studies and Biology special major
Eugene Palatulan ’05 graduated from Swarthmore with a special major in Education and Biology. With the support of the Woodrow Wilson-RBF teaching fellowship he pursued his MA in Science Education and teacher certification at Teachers College the year following his graduation from Swarthmore. He then taught for the next six years. He is now a medical student at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Eugene encourages Swarthmore students to take advantage of the nurturing environment Swarthmore offers which cannot easily be found elsewhere.
Lawyer and PhD Psychology Student
Psychology major, Educational Studies minor in honors
Roseanna Summers ’10 graduated from Swarthmore with an honors major in Psychology and a minor in Educational Studies. After graduating, Roseanna moved to Washington D.C. for a two-year fellowship focused on research and training in bioethics at the National Institutes of Health, where she served on the ethics consultation service for the NIH Clinical Center, the largest possible in the U.S. devoted entirely to clinical research. While there, she took courses on a variety of topics in research ethics and medical ethics. Two years ago Roseanna started a dual degree program at Yale, where she alternates between being a law student, taking law school classes and participating in a legal services clinic, and being a psychology PhD student, taking classes in psychology and statistics, conducting research, and preparing to teach undergraduate psychology students.
Two courses that have stayed with her over the years are the Social and Cultural Perspectives on Education seminar, and Education Policy. She encourages students to think of their experiences in the Ed Studies department as not just preparing them to teach, but also preparing them to decide what kind of person they want to be when they graduate. In the Ed department, students engage with questions about social justice and inequality; about politics and democracy; about culture, social identity, and perspective; as well as their own privileges and responsibilities that come with having graduated from one of the leading institutions in the world. With its field placements, complex papers, extensive readings, and rich seminars, Roseanna believes that the Educational Studies department embodies the best of what Swarthmore has to offer, showing what it means to be in the spirit of the liberal arts.
PhD Student in Language and Literacy
Economics major, Psychology and Engineering minor
Zack Wiener ’12 graduated from Swarthmore with a major in Economics and minors in Psychology and Engineering. After Swarthmore, Zack spent a year and a half as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at a primary school in Kampung Seberang Takir, a small fishing village in Malaysia. In addition to teaching the basics, Zack was responsible for providing students opportunities to speak English, and so held lunch tables, participated in the Scouts program, screened movies, threw fun fairs, and organized English camps with some help from other ETAs. After the fellowship ended, he remained in Malaysia, where he worked as a research assistant for John Hopkins School of Medicine. Currently, Zack is participating in a Master of Arts program in Language and Literacy Education at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. There, he seeks to both broaden his exposure to theories and applications of literacy studies and earn a Ph.D. in his field, investigating how language learning and linguistically-situated practices create communities around the world.
The Literacies and Social Identities course was been particularly meaningful to Zack, in that it opened his mind to new worlds of inquiry, forcing him to think critically about all forms of knowledge and practice. The education department also helped to show him that learning and teaching happen everywhere. Zack advises students to seek inquiry beyond predefined notions of “the classroom.” He asks that students “be fearless in pursuing your hunches wherever they lead. With intuition and a cunning attitude, you might find something astonishing.”
Google Project Manager
History major, Educational Studies minor (honors)
Secondary citizenship certification
Autumn Quinn ’04 graduated from Swarthmore with an honors History major and Educational Studies minor. She earned her secondary citizenship education certification while at Swarthmore. As someone who planned on teaching high school, she found the adolescence course to be particularly illuminating, especially concerning the idea of adolescence as a time of change and how that might impact their learning.
After graduating, Autumn spent a year and a half working as a private tutor for a family with four children, age 5, 6, 10, and 12, who wanted to travel for a year and so take their children out of school. Autumn went with them, travelling extensively in Asia and Europe. As someone who had planned to teacher high school, it was challenging for her to work with elementary school kids, but she found that she enjoyed coming up with ways of working with all of them despite their different ability levels.
She then moved back to Northern California to work for Google, where she began in customer service but moved to Product Release Management, followed by Project Management. She is currently Google’s Global Certifications Project Manager, and it is the responsibility of her and her team to certify any third party advertisement technology that is used on Google properties, making sure that they are in compliance with Google’s policies and can properly serve in the Google ecosystem. Considering this trajectory, it makes sense that Autumn’s advice for education students is to expect the unexpected, and stay open to saying “yes” to opportunities as they arise.
Educatinoal Studies and Psychology special major
Elementary teacher certification
John Loeser ’00 graduated from Swarthmore with a special major in Psychology and Education in addition to elementary teacher certification. He then took a job teaching 5th grade in Belmont, Massachusetts, where he taught for four years before moving onto administration. In preparation for this, he earned his Master’s in Education in School Leadership at Harvard University, with a focus on becoming a public school principal. He then became the Assistant Head of School at the Carey School, an independent elementary school in San Mateo, California. He stayed there for seven years before accepting a position as Head of School at Redwood Day School, an independent school in Oakland, California, where he is currently in his fourth year. He is responsible for overseeing all of the school’s operations, including curriculum, teaching, finances, fundraising, and admissions. He also leads initiatives in diversity, equity, inclusion, curriculum adoptions, and service learning.
John particularly enjoyed the Curriculum and Methods seminar and the Adolescence course, which helped to shape his understanding of students at this critical time in their life. He also found his final project in Urban Education to be particularly impactful, in which he had to work with a team to create an urban school, working through all the operational, financial, cultural, and political issues that would arise.
John encourages current education students to tap into the expertise of Swarthmore professors. He is still connected to his professors today fourteen years after graduation, and reminds students that the relationships they built today will be lifelong and can shape their careers for years to come.
Upward Bound Counselor
Educational Studies and Psychology special major
Ekua Ewool ’05 was a special major in Education and Psychology. After graduating from Swarthmore, she spent the summer as a teaching fellow at the Bronx Zoo in New York City before travelling to France to teach one year of ESL in two French elementary schools. In France she gained teaching experience, an international perspective, “and an even deeper appreciation of the croissant.” Then Ekua travelled to Minnesota to be an Intern Naturalist for a school year. However, she discovered that she was less interested in learning the names of “every bird imaginable,” and more interested in remedying the opportunity gap between students in Minnesota and in her hometown neighborhood in NYC. She then returned to NYC to work for a high school-based non-profit as a career and college readiness facilitator, which instilled in her the idea that teaching could actually help to “save” students who needed saving. After becoming a school counselor and deciding that it was not for her, she did what “a lot of people do when they aren’t quite sure where they want to go,” and went to graduate school. In order to pursue her M.Ed in Learning, Teaching, and Educational Transformation, she took classes in curriculum design, behavior management, counseling, negotiation, and adventure education. She also took the few classes she still needed to receive her K-12 ESL certification.
Ekua is currently a counselor at Upward Bound, a non-profit with the goal of helping low-income, first-generation students succeed in high school and beyond. She spends mornings completing the work necessary to organize their special summer program and college visits and afternoons mentoring and counseling a caseload of students that she follows through all of high school.
Ekua would like to remind current Education students that as educators, they are “constantly in a state of learning” about how to improve their craft. She encourages them to both steal ideas from others and have the courage to develop their own. She also tells students that, if they find a dream that really sticks with them, they should find a way to make it happen, no matter how many stepping stones they need to take to reach it.
Ila Deshmukh Towery
Educational Studies and Political Science special major
Ila Deshmukh Towery ’99 was a special major in Political Science and Education. After graduating, she worked for AmeriCorps and taught math at a middle school, then worked as Project Manager for several research projects at Tufts. She also served as the Research Director at Boston Plan for Excellence and The New Teacher Project, both non-profit organizations. She currently holds her PhD in Child Development and is a Senior Consultant at Education First, a small consulting firm in Seattle, where she advises states, districts, and philanthropic organizations on numerous issues in education. Ila advises current Swarthmore students to take a wide variety of courses and think creatively about how to solve problems, as strong critical thinkers and problem solvers will be necessary to solve the current issues in education.
Educational Studies and Sociology/Anthropology special major
Jessica Lee ’03 was a special major in Education and Sociology and Anthropology. After graduating, she worked as a project manager for cultural competence projects at The Center for Immigrant Health, a public health non-profit in Bellevue Hospital. She then spent the next four years in medical school at SUNY Downstate College of Medicine. She is now an inpatient attending psychiatrist at a county hospital, where she works with patients who are in acute crisis and are usually psychotic, extremely depressed, or both.
Although she does not work directly as a teacher, Jessica points out that teaching is in everything. Majoring in education helped her to understand her own learning process and communicate with people with different learning styles, as well as helping her to teach medical students and residents. Now, she teaches her patients to better understand how the mind works, helping them to see themselves as students of how to be emotionally and mentally healthy.
Chy Ryan Spain
Theater Program Coordinator
Educational Studies and English special major
Secondary English certification
Chy Ryan Spain ’00 was a special major in Education and English Literature, and completed his teacher certification at Swarthmore through teaching drama at Julia R. Masterman High School in Philadelphia. For Chy, it was stifling teaching in a traditional classroom, so he pursued non-traditional educational settings throughout his career, beginning with The Attic Youth Center, a community center for LGBTQ youth in Center City, Philadelphia. There, he served as Education and Outreach Coordinator at The Bryson Institute, one of the center’s programs dedicated to conducting educational and professional development workshops on how to work effectively with queer-identifying clients.
For the past ten years, Chy has worked as Youth Program Coordinator at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto, the world’s oldest and largest theatre dedicated to queer culture, where he believes his skills and passions for queer theory, performance, and education have really found a home.
Chy really valued his time at Swarthmore given the wide array of subjects available for exploration, including those directly applicable to his major. Chy took advantage of this by taking several creative writing, playwriting, and West African Dance courses, in addition to performing in a student theatre production each semester. As his career path would suggest, Chy reminds students that there are many ways to be a teacher.
Senior Strategist and Researcher
Educational Studies and Psychology special major
Sarah Zlotnick '02 was a special major in Psychology and Education. After graduation, she moved to Oregon and taught environmental education with Portland Public Schools before working for two years as a youth mentor in a therapeutic foster care program.
Since then, Sarah has earned her Master’s of Social Work and Master’s in Public Health. She has also worked as a research assistant at the UNC School of Social Work as well as at PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Currently, she is PolicyLab’s senior strategist, a public lead for the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, and an adjunct professor for a health policy class at UPenn School of Medicine.
She reminds current Swarthmore students that the skills they learn will equip them for the world in countless ways, and encourages them to remain open about where they want to go next. Two skills that Sarah still draws on are the ability to explain and break down concepts and facilitate group process, which help her in teaching and working with her team. She also suggests that students cultivate mentors and colleagues who can support them as they find their way.