Getting to Know You – Jennifer

For this week’s installment of Getting to Know You, I interviewed Jennifer.  Jennifer and I have Approaches to Teaching English together, but we also enjoy hanging out after class.  She hails from the Midwest (holla!) and truly appreciates my love of cheese curds.  What more could you ask for in a friend?  Below is my interview with her.  Enjoy!

What is your name?  Jennifer

What’s your hometown?  Appleton, Wisconsin

Where did you go to undergrad? I did my undergrad at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and I graduated in 2011. My majors were Global Studies and German Studies and I minored in Spanish.

Jen hiking in Shenandoah on a weekend trip.
Jennifer hiking in Shenandoah on a weekend trip.

Have you ever taught English before?  Outside of the U.S., I’ve taught English for a summer at an elementary school in Berlin, Germany and I’ve also taught elementary students in a rural area outside of Bangalore, India for 6 months. In the U.S. I volunteered as a citizenship and English literacy instructor. Most recently, I coordinated English language tutoring programs for adults in Appleton, WI for the past year and a half before coming to Penn GSE.

Why did you decide to get a Master’s in TESOL? I wanted greater opportunity for professional growth in the TESOL field in the U.S. and also wanted to enhance my foundational knowledge of linguistics and pedagogy to be a better educator and potential administrator.

What made you want to come to GSE? I wanted to learn with faculty who are contributing to the field by engaging in groundbreaking research while also teaching the next wave of potential leaders in the field. The TESOL program also has some fantastic programs and connections which enhance the experience (for example the PEDAL@GSE program and the many placement options for the Fieldwork and Seminar).

I was also attracted to the plethora of resources for students at Penn GSE inside and outside of the GSE. I am interested in potentially starting my own enterprise in the future and so the opportunity to take classes through Wharton or take interdisciplinary courses like Educational Entrepreneurship through Wharton and Penn GSE really intrigued me. To support my future professional ambitions, I also really wanted to study Hindi and Penn’s diverse language programs and the funding opportunity through the FLAS which are available to me as a GSE student made Penn GSE a fantastic fit.

What do you want to do after you graduate? Within a few years, I plan to move to India and start my own business teaching English for vocational purposes. Before that I plan to work for a few years as a TESOL educator teaching adults in the U.S. in community settings.

Enough about school, tell me something fun you like to do outside of class! Outside of class I am on a mission to explore all the fantastic culinary fare Philadelphia has to offer. There are so many great bars and restaurants in University City and beyond. When not eating out (which is often as, let’s face it, I am a graduate student after all), I like cooking up new things at home and sharing them with my roommates and friends.

Brunch at Cafe Le Maude.
Brunch at Cafe Le Maude.

What do you think of Philadelphia? Philadelphia has met and exceeded my expectations! I love the little neighborhoods, each with their own character. There is a wealth of cultural events and festivals throughout the year. A great cafe, bar, or restaurant is never too far away. Philadelphia is also really close to New York, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore which means it’s also easy and affordable to get away to mix things up and get to know some other new-to-me places.

One place to explore - the Independence Beer Garden!
One place to explore – the Independence Beer Garden!

Do you have any advice/comments/words of wisdom for prospective students? If you’re looking for a program with faculty who are fantastic at what they do and who challenge you to grow and develop, the TESOL program at Penn GSE should be at the top of your list! Also, if you’re looking for a university and graduate program where you can explore other interests or at least network with people in those circles (perhaps in business, design, or engineering), Penn GSE could be a really great fit for you.

One other thing worth mentioning is that though Penn GSE is a part of a large and well-resourced university, GSE has a really strong sense of community and intimacy that makes many students feel a part of a family. It’s a wonderful thing to have so many resources available to us, but also have a smaller, more intimate group of peers and faculty to accompany us along the journey.

TESOL Happy Hour at City Tap!
TESOL Happy Hour at City Tap!

One last thing worth mentioning is that the benefit of being a part of the University of Pennsylvania extends beyond your time here on campus. UPenn and Penn GSE have extensive alumni networks doing really groundbreaking things in their fields and being a student at Penn GSE gives you unique opportunities to learn from and connect with these individuals.

All the best as you consider which program best meets your needs and desires!

Thanks so much for your great answers, Jennifer!  Be on the lookout for next week’s post.


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