- SHANNON O'HALLORAN, EdMShannon first fell in love with travel during her senior year of high school when she studied in Cuernavaca, Mexico for three months. While not on full scholarship, like many of her travel mates, Shannon would never have been able to participate in such a trip if it had not been part of her tuition package. This introduction, at a young age, to the tension between the transformative power of educational travel and the challenges of access, was early inspiration for what would one day become The Wandering Scholar. In the summer of 2009, Shannon led a group of 15 high school students on an adventure and service learning trip through Costa Rica with Walking Tree Travel. Witnessing the personal transformation of each student throughout the trip has further solidified her desire to make international travel and learning experiences accessible to all youth. Shannon’s professional life has been committed to education within in a variety of formats from traditional classrooms to virtual platforms and with a range of audiences, from her early years as a Spanish teacher in independent schools to working with adult learners at both Boston University’s School of Public Health and currently at General Assembly, an educational start-up focused on technology, design and entrepreneurship. She studied international relations at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service where she focused on language and cultural studies of Latin America and completed her EdM in International Educational Development at Boston University.
- TAMARA J. WALKER, PhDTamara grew up in Denver, Colorado and spent the first half of her education attending poorly funded public schools. After receiving a generous scholarship, she enrolled at an area private school, where international education was deeply ingrained into both the culture and curriculum. Even as a seventh grader, she lagged behind her peers, who by then had been studying foreign languages, learning about other countries, and traveling abroad for several years. While initially overwhelmed, she soon began to thrive in this environment, and was eventually able to put her Spanish and French skills to the test on class trips to Mexico and France. These experiences helped solidify a passion for cross-cultural exchange, which she continued to pursue as a Spanish major at the University of Pennsylvania (when she studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina), and later as a PhD student in Latin American History at the University of Michigan (when she received a Fulbright award for study in Peru). As someone who was fortunate enough to gain exposure to international education at a young age, she knows how important those experiences are in shaping career possibilities. She sees The Wandering Scholar as an important step towards ensuring that more underserved students receive the kinds of opportunities that helped change her own life.
- ANGELA MOORE, MPHAngela Moore was born and raised in Florida, where she attended a culturally diverse public high school, with a science and engineering magnet program. During junior year, she had the opportunity to travel to Italy through a school tour program. Fortunately, proceeds from her summer job and family fundraising allowed her to participate in the trip. This experience marked the beginning of her love affair with travel and she’s been traveling every since. Angela went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where she completed a BA in Anthropology with a minor in Latin American studies. During undergrad, she studied abroad in Mexico and conducted research in Cuba and Ecuador. Upon graduation, Angela began a career in the pharmaceutical industry, which expanded her travels to many countries in Europe and South America. Angela earned an MPH from Columbia University and continues to work in specialty pharmaceuticals. Her passion for travel has not waned and she strives to explore new destinations whenever possible. She is thrilled to support the mission of TWS and help create opportunities for students to reshape their trajectories with early exposure to international travel.
- ANTHONY RAMIREZ IIAnthony Ramirez II grew up in The Bronx, NY where the bulk of his travels were to and from school. In the fifth grade he entered Prep for Prep, a leadership development program that offers promising students of color access to a private school education and life changing opportunities. After completing the Prep for Prep program, Anthony attended the prestigious Horace Mann School and went on to graduate from Columbia University with a BA in Economics. After graduation, he moved back to The Bronx and worked with the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBRO) in youth development. It was at SoBRO that Anthony realized many youth knew little about their immediate surroundings and even less about the world outside of The Bronx. While designing education programs from video production to journalism for youth, Anthony co-founded Mainland Media / fromTheBronx, whose mission is to improve the image of The Bronx and to push that world-famous Bronx pride to ever higher levels. From 2007 – 2011, Anthony worked as the Director of the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s (DYCD) Youth Connect, a highly acclaimed information and referral service for New York City youth. Under his leadership, Youth Connect increased outreach and improved communication with young people. He continues to work with DYCD as a consultant while managing Mainland Media / fromTheBronx.
- DEBRA KURSHANDebra Kurshan grew up in Roanoke, Virginia and was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel around the world with her family by the age of 8. As she continued to travel with her parents and on her own she realized how traveling helped to shape her worldview and perspective. She joined the Peace Corps after college and spent two years working in Ghana doing HIV/AIDS education. She returned to the United States committed to education and creating opportunities for young people through education and travel. She has worked for the NYC Department of Education and the Louisiana Recovery School District. She spent a year as a White House Fellow at NASA and now serves as the Chief Turnaround Officer for the Connecticut State Department of Education.
- JEFF PEOJeff Peo was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston and attended college in Connecticut. It was there that he got his first tastes of life abroad with trips to England, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. However, it wasn’t until studying electrical engineering in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania that he was first truly immersed in an international, multi-cultural environment. During marathon sessions with his study group, he found that he learned as much from his classmates’ different perspectives based on their backgrounds as he did from their contributions to the coursework. Looking to broaden his own horizons, he took an active interest in life in other parts of the world and in the years since finishing school has traveled to more than 70 countries on 6 continents. Each time he returned home he found that his experience had not only expanded his knowledge and built confidence, but was also helping him to connect better with colleagues and clients from around the world. What had started out as a personal journey unexpectedly turned into a professional advantage – first in business school, then for 5+ years in management consulting, and now as the founder and CEO of a startup tech company. He is excited to be part of an organization that provides kids, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, a chance to get an early start down the path of personal growth and professional development through international travel.
- MEKA NURSEMeka Nurse is a public servant dedicated to New York City’s youth and families. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Finance from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is currently the Deputy Director of Strategic Development for a nonprofit organization in Brooklyn, New York where she is directly responsible for developing the data management system and employer partnerships and program compliance. Meka finds fulfillment in helping others, volunteering at community organizations and traveling. As a young person born and raised in a low-income community in Brooklyn, Meka and her family could not afford to travel. It was during her freshman year of college, Meka traveled outside of the USA to Jamaica for the first time. She was amazed to experience a different way of life and found it eye-opening to learn about Jamaica’s education system, native language, cuisine, and its history. The trip sparked her passion for traveling and learning about different cultures. Since her trip to Jamaica, she has traveled to five other countries. As she continues to work with young people living in similar situations to her own and she hopes to encourage them to think globally. She is honored to join the Board of The Wandering Scholar because of the opportunities it provides youth to explore the world and establish themselves as global citizens and leaders.
- ERIN LA MONICAErin La Monica grew up in the center of the United States (Topeka, KS) and attended a diverse public high school. Enchanted with the idea of travel, and interested in the opportunity to further develop her language skills, she worked part-time to raise the funds to spend the summer of her junior year with a host family in France. She continued her international journey in college by completing a summer study abroad program/internship, also in France. These combined experiences solidified for her the self-reliance and independence that have influenced almost every facet of her life, and created a love of travel that led her to visit many places throughout the world. She is still in touch with her host family and cherishes the memories of the times she has shared with them. Erin is a member of The Wandering Scholar board because she wants to support young scholars grow and develop through international experiences. She believes her own international travel at a young age was pivotal, and wants to provide similar opportunity to students who might otherwise not be able to participate in such programs.