By Ashley Wall
What is your academic background?
I graduated from Georgetown University. I have a bachelor of science in French and linguistics. I double majored. Immediately following that, I went to Columbia University and I earned a master of arts in TESOL, which is teaching English to speakers of other languages. After I had been teaching for a while, I took a break and went to Harvard University, where I earned a certificate of advanced studies in international education. Then, I went on and earned a Ph.D. in education with a concentration in educational linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania.
What is your professional background?
Once I earned my master’s degree, my very first job was in the [former] town of Framingham. I started out teaching ESL in north Framingham at the Juniper Hill School. I was a grade 5 and 6 ESL teacher. I was there for a year. I then moved on and taught in Brookline Public Schools for several years as a K-8 ESL teacher. I started working with adults around that time. Two to three years later, I started teaching at night at Bunker Hill Community College and in the summers at Boston University. I also went through an apprentice ESL teacher program that Harvard University used to hold for new teachers. I really loved working with adults. I started out thinking that I only wanted to work with children – then I realized: I like teaching everyone. I took a year and did the C.A.S. at Harvard, and then decided that I really wanted to focus on language learning, because that is really my background. After I earned my Ph.D., I did some work at Northeastern University doing teacher training online. I then moved on to MCPHS, where I directed an English program and eventually became their director of their graduate academic support in the school of pharmacy. My whole career has been dedicated to working with international students who are learning English as a second language.
How did you end up here at FSU?
I am from the area and FSU has a wonderful reputation. I was looking to get back into program administration for English language learners. I saw that the opportunity was open here – that they were looking for an assistant director, and I thought, “That is exactly what I would love to be doing right now.” I applied, went through the interview process, and was very fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be selected.
How has your transition to FSU been?
It has been wonderful. I have found that the students, the administrators, the faculty – everyone has been really wonderful. It is a place where people really are focused on learning, and as a new person here, that is wonderful to have people who have the same spirit, the same belief about learning. I have a couple of roles in my job. In addition to helping assist with the work that’s done in English Language Programs, I also oversee the Adventures in Lifelong Learning program, which is for elders in the community. We collaborate with the Framingham Public Library on that. So, I have not only felt welcomed by people at Framingham State, but I have also had the opportunity to connect with people in the community as well.
What are the most important aspects of your position?
We have students from over 40 different countries here, so it is really important to be culturally sensitive. It is also very important to have an understanding of what a student’s experience is learning another language. I have that. I studied abroad in Nice for a year. I know what it is like having gone through being in another country and having to study in another language. I think that’s really important to have the background that I bring, to be able to understand their experiences and assess their needs, and then meet their needs. We want them to meet their personal, professional, and academic goals. Their goals are very important to keep in mind.
What are some of your professional aspirations?
I would like to continue working at Framingham State. I am assisting in the development of credit-bearing courses for the English Language Programs, so students in that program can transition into programs of study here at Framingham State. That is a big aspiration. I would like to continue to mentor professionals in my field – also, to always keep in mind that I am a person who is a lifelong learner, that I can always learn and develop and grow as a professional. Really, I want to take any opportunities that come my way.
What do you hope to accomplish in both the short- and long-term?
I would like to work toward assisting and helping students transition from the English language program into credit-bearing courses at the University. This is a short- and long-term goal. I would like to continue delivering the services students need to meet their educational goals, to contribute my expertise to the program so that we can continue to cultivate a really vibrant program. It is a great program with such diversity. I want to keep it going and help it grow.
What advice would you give to students?
Believe in yourself. Have courage. Don’t be afraid to take chances on the goals that you have for your education, career, and personally. This is your time in life where you can explore where you want to go and be.