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Alethea Stoltzfus

15 Jul 2021 4:30 PM | Anonymous

LIMELIGHT INTERVIEW WITH ALETHEA STOLTZFUS

  1. What is your current title, and where do you work? I am an International Student Advisor at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, CA.
  2. How did you learn about your current position? (Ex. Networking, Promotion, External Job Posting) I learned about my current job through an external job posting, but I also knew of an alumnus of my graduate program who already worked in the office, and we were able to connect to discuss the position. I have since moved up to a higher-level advising role.
  3. What sparked your interest in working in international education?My study abroad experience at 18 definitely triggered my interest in the field, but during my undergraduate studies, I also tutored students (many of whom were international students), and I knew that whatever I ended up doing, I wanted to help students.
  4. What was your first job in international education? My first international education job was as a Student Services Specialist at TALK English School in Boston. At the time, I did not have a graduate degree, and I didn’t have any luck finding jobs in universities. I found it easier to break into the field in ESL schools, but I still spent about 3 - 4 months job hunting before I found my job. I was also completing the Global Pro Institute at the time. I loved the job and working with ESL students; it was so rewarding to see them arrive at our school sometimes speaking little to no English and then start to gain confidence with the language and let their personalities emerge more.
  5. Tell us about your first international experience, either traveling or working abroad. My first experience abroad was a one-month educational program with Go Abbey Road in Italy, Greece, and France with about 30 other high schoolers from all over the world. It was my first time away from the United States, my family, and my comfort zone, and it was amazing, hard, educational, and eye-opening. It motivated me to go to college when I returned to the U.S. and seek out more study abroad opportunities in the future.
  6. Describe a typical day/week at the office at your current job. Right now, a typical week at my job involves lots of advising emails, Zoom advising shifts, processing student requests and new documents, and meetings. My work is also cyclical, so at certain times of the year, I review financial aid applications, or recruit and train our orientation leaders, or manage our work authorization workshops. UC Berkeley is a huge university with thousands of international students, and my office has been extremely busy since the start of the pandemic; and we have been managing a higher volume of advising, emails, and paperwork than usual.
  7. What do you enjoy the most about your job? The thing I love the most about my job is the students. I love being able to help them, alleviate their stress and anxiety, and watch them grow.
  8. What is the most challenging aspect of your job? Typically, I would say the most challenging thing about my job is having the bandwidth and time to do everything that we would like to do for our students. It has also been an adjustment working at such a large university with so many students, as my previous jobs were all in smaller offices serving much fewer students. During COVID times, I would also add that the current administration and rapidly changing immigration policies have been extremely challenging.
  9. What has working in international education taught you about yourself and your own culture? Working in international education has taught me just how important flexibility and open-mindedness are and that there is not always a “right” or “wrong” answer.
  10. Do you have a career mentor or someone that you consult with about career growth? I don’t have one specific career mentor, but I have had many professors and supervisors over the years who have helped me with my career growth, whether that meant directing me to apply to the Fulbright program or convincing me to stay in graduate school or guiding me towards professional development opportunities.
  11. Describe a moment in your career that you consider your greatest achievement. One of my greatest achievements and learning experiences was teaching English in Germany with the Fulbright program. It was a very tough year, and there were many times that I wanted to quit and go home, but I learned so much about perseverance, myself, and what I wanted both personally and professionally. After that year, I was really motivated to pursue the career path that I was interested in and make some big changes to my life.
  12. How has COVID19 Impacted your work life? I am currently working from home for the foreseeable future.
  13. If you are working from home, has that adjustment been difficult or enjoyable? Working from home has been both difficult and enjoyable. I do enjoy being home more and having more time and flexibility, but I miss the social aspect of work. It also has been difficult to find ways to create a separation between “work” and “home” when my workspace is now my bedroom.
  14. What type of things are you doing to balance your mental health and lack of social engagement? I have started meditating this past year, and that has been a wonderful way to keep me balanced. I have also been trying to keep in touch with my long-distance friends more through phone calls and Zoom.
  15. What is the best advice you can give to other global educators right now as we move into the new year? The best advice I can give to global educators right now is to lean on each other! It is a very difficult time to work in this field, but being open and supporting each other can help to alleviate that. Staying in touch with my work colleagues and graduate school friends has been immensely helpful to me during this time.

The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders. We invite you to reach out to us here or learn more about becoming a member.

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION

Our members come from different backgrounds, abilities, levels of experience, and parts of the world. Our goal is to embrace this diversity and encourage relationships across generations and experience levels for the benefit of all involved. 

The Global Leadership League was started by a group of women in the field of international education for the purposes of advancing women’s leadership skills, knowledge, and connections.

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Our Mission

The mission of the Global Leadership League is to ignite change across the global education field by empowering, connecting, and training leaders.  Become a Member