Demosthenes Gakidis, 2010, Watertown, CT but headed to Philadelphia, PA in August 2016
What are you up to? I am attending the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education for an M.S. Ed. in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language). At UPenn, beyond studying, I'll be working as a Graduate Assistant in the Graduate School of Education-- talking to prospective students, helping professors with research, and a few other administrative assistant responsibilities. Alongside this, I'll be a Graduate Associate in the College Houses assisting undergraduate students, organizing presentations, and taking trips around Philadelphia.
How'd you get here? After graduating from Watertown High School, I attended UConn with a major in English. I knew I liked reading and writing, but I had no idea what I wanted to do with my interests in the "real world." At UConn, I joined a volunteer group to assist adult English as a second language classes at the local high school next to campus. Here, I had a chance to interact with and work with people from countries such as China, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and Austria. I realized I loved teaching ESL and meeting people from around the world. I applied for jobs abroad and eventually taught English in Kochi, Japan to elementary school and junior high school students for two years with the JET Program. The experience, as cliche as this sounds, changed my life. It's hard to sum up two years in a foreign country in a few sentences, but I'll try my best. I saw a new way of life and immersed myself into a culture I knew nothing about previously. I began to trust myself more and became really independent. I studied Japanese daily and eventually was able to communicate with people in my schools and town. I had an incredible time traveling around Japan (visited 23/47 prefectures) and to countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Australia. The food was so good; I still dream about it to this day. Now, I'm going to graduate school to learn all the theoretical background in the field of teaching English as a second language and to study language acquisition.
What are your goals? My future goals at the moment include teaching international students, refugees, or immigrants in the United States or Europe in universities or community centers. I hope to eventually earn a higher degree in Linguistics/Social Anthropology or study Immigration Law. I also plan on traveling extensively throughout the world and want to constantly be experiencing new things, eating delicious food, and meeting a diverse range of people.
Advice for WHS Students? My advice for WHS students is that it is okay to fail. You'll fail many times before you reach your goals. The difference is how you react to your failure. If you take your failure as a lesson, and learn from your mistakes, you'll have a better chance for success. Also, it's never too late to discover what you want to be. You don't need your whole life figured out at age 18. Don't worry. Live your truth and follow your passions.
What is something that bugged you today? The heat and mosquitoes.