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Education professors like Dr. Bette Goldstone, Dr. Peggy Hickman, Dr. Leif Gustavson, and Dr. Peter Appelbaum still inform my career today. They encourage my continued scholarship and involvement in the latest practices and professional development opportunities. My photography professor, Judith Taylor, also became my art mentor. My professors were always able to address my needs, encourage my interests, help me find ways to reach my goals, and recognize my strengths to help me develop those aptitudes. Office doors were always open, instructors stayed late after class, and professors would even open their homes to students who were interested in continuing the conversations from class over dinner. In this way, Arcadia lives up to its reputation as a community of scholars who pursue knowledge and higher thinking.
When I stepped into my role as executive director at Welcoming the Stranger in 2015, I was presented with numerous challenges of a small, struggling nonprofit. Funding was hard to come by, we had experienced a 147 percent increase in enrollment without an increase in funding, and the immigrants we serve had changing needs. Despite these challenges, we are now in a much more stable place to carry out our work. The students’ successes are my greatest achievements: a young victim of human trafficking learned English, got a job, earned her GED, and got a driver’s license; a refugee family found permanent housing; a formerly illiterate grandmother read her grandson a picture book for the first time. There are countless examples of their success.