2017-2018 Volunteer Team

Meet our 2017-2018 Volunteer Team!

Where are they from?
This school year BECA welcomes our most diverse team ever. While we have a majority of volunteers from the United States (23), we also have volunteers from Nicaragua (1), Canada (1) and Honduras (5)!

San Jeronimo Bilingual School

Nicolle was born and raised in Cofradía Honduras. She graduated from Cofradia’s Bilingual School (CBS) in 2008. After CBS, she attended and graduated high school in Cofradía.
Nowadays she is studying both Psychology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras Valle de Sula (UNAHVS) and she is getting a certificate in Early Childhood Education at Francisco Morazan National Pedagogical University. Nicolle is excited to be working with BECA to improve education in Cofradía. It’s her first year teaching and she’s the happiest working with pre-K.

Nemanja is a senior at Northern Arizona University in the beautiful city of Flagstaff, Arizona, where he is currently pursuing a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in International Relations. During his time at NAU, Nemanja has served as a congressional intern to former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick; as well as served as the legal intern for Griffin and Stevens Law. More so, Nemanja has spent the past three years as a Peer Instructor, teaching a transition-to-college course for first year students. Nemanja graduates in December 2017.

Outside of NAU, and the Flagstaff community, Nemanja is passionate about traveling and immersing himself in different cultures. In the Spring of 2016, Nemanja studied abroad in Perth, Australia, where he studied American and Southeast Asian politics. While in Perth, Nemanja volunteered with the Australian Indigenous Mentor Experience; a program dedicated to closing the educational attainment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.

Nemanja’s passion lies in aiding displaced and marginalized peoples. From AIME, to reviewing grant applications for LGBTQ+ youth grants through the Arizona Community Foundation, Nemanja hopes every action he takes leaves a positive impact on the community he works with. Nemanja’s passion comes from having entered the United States as a refugee at the age of five, and facing harsh injustices placed upon his family. He hopes to one day assist refugees, much like himself, who simply need a motivational hand to guide them through a new, and shocking, reality. Nemanja had a blast working with the BECA Summer Camp team from the summer of 2017 and looks forward to being back in Honduras with a new group of amazing volunteers, and the same incredible students.

Irma was born and raised in the beautiful town of Cofradia, Honduras. As a kid she studied at San Jeronimo Bilingual School and eventually graduated in 2014. After SJBS she attended and graduated from high school in San Pedro Sula and is now studying to get a certificate in Early Childhood Education at the Francisco Morazán National Pedagogical University. She is very thankful to SJBS for teaching her about values (RESPECT) , different cultures, and, of course, English. She claims that those were the best 10 years of her life and can't wait to return to SJBS as a the kindergarten teacher.

Andres was born and raised in Cofradía, Honduras. He graduated from San Jeronimo Bilingual School (SJBS) in 2012 and went on to attend high school and university, earning a degree in Education from the Francisco Morazan National Pedagogical University, before returning to BECA as a full-time classroom teacher. When Andres was a student at SJBS he was really inspired by the volunteer teachers and always wanted to be like them. It was a dream of his to teach with BECA. Now it’s great for him to be a part of this team because he can experience BECA from a different point of view and have the opportunity to meet great people from diverse backgrounds. Andres is a proud SJBS graduate. He considers SJBS “one of the best schools in Cofradía because they didn’t just teach me English, they taught me about me about another culture and new things that I wouldn’t have learned in another school.” According to Andres, Honduras is a great adventure full of wonderful people and beautiful places with so much to give to people that haven’t yet visited. He wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else since there’s no place like Honduras.

Hattie was born and raised in Southern California. She graduated from Charleston School of Law with a Juris Doctorate degree in May 2014. Prior to that, she achieved her BA from University of Oregon, where she majored in History, with a specific focus on Latin American history. After graduating from law school, Hattie began to focus on working with children, including volunteering at after school programs and working at a Girl Scout summer camp. In her free time, Hattie enjoys traveling, running, playing soccer, reading, and spending time with friends. She is excited to improve her Spanish, explore a new country and meet her students!

Ciara was born and raised on the beautiful Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada. She graduated from the University of Victoria in spring 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology, and looks forward to pursuing a career in science. Ciara loves reading, painting, walking her dogs, and has been a long time volunteer with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Victoria. She previously spent a year studying abroad in Colombia and would love to see more of South and Central America. After visiting the welcoming community of Cofradia in 2013 she was inspired to later return as a volunteer, and is very excited be a part of the incoming BECA team.

Jessica was born and raised in New Jersey, although she attended college in Maryland at Towson University. In May, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education. At Towson, Jessica was involved with Greek life through her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. During her senior year, Jessica has had the pleasure of student teaching an amazing group of 1st graders. She can’t wait to continue her journey as an educator in Honduras and to learn and grow beside her students. Jessica is eager to pursue her dreams of traveling and teaching through volunteering with BECA. She is excited to learn more about the Honduran culture, Spanish language, and bilingual education throughout the 2017 - 2018 school year. Jessica is honored to be a part of the BECA team and is looking forward to the adventures and challenges that lie ahead.

Sondra (Program Manager) was born and raised in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a degree in Spanish. Her first exposure to Latin American culture was during high school when she spent a summer leading kids sports camps in Costa Rica. During undergrad, she also spent time interning and studying in Peru and Spain. Prior to moving to Honduras, she worked as a case manager for disadvantaged high school students, many of whom were first and second generation Latin-American immigrants. She is currently working toward her Master’s degree in International Community Development at Northwest University and is excited to see how her studies will intersect with her real-world experience as a teacher in Honduras this year!

Christian (SJBS Admin) graduated with a degree in Business Administration and two minors in Finance and Theology. Shortly after graduation he started working in the health care/Insurance industry that led him to work from Pharmacies to Medical Billing. Soon Chris developed a passion for travel and Latin American culture. This new passion took him to a backpacking trip throughout Central America, Mexico and South America, not only to discover his heritage but also to understand the region. Chris did not limit his experience to Latin America but also volunteered in Rome, Italy in a free health care clinic for immigrants. Chris is not only focused on culture but also in nature and environment; he volunteered on a Ecological Hotel in Barcelona, Spain where he led the hotel's environmental projects on recycling, and a efficient use of resources. Chris also has more than 5 years of experience on the BPO/Contact Centers industry. As a customer service expert, Chris belonged to the Quality Assurance team where his skills on opportunities identification, feedback, coaching and data mining sharpened up. Chris is very passionate on the development of the Central American region, environment conservation and education and this took him to share his experience with BECA where he knows he can make a difference, for a second year in a row, in the development of the region.

In May 2013, Meghan graduated from Towson University Magna Cum Laude with a degree in elementary education. While at TU, Meghan played the saxophone in the university band, studied abroad in Costa Rica, and was an active member of the Students Helping Honduras (SHH) chapter leadership team. Through SHH Meghan volunteered regularly near El Progreso, Honduras, fostering her love for the country and deepening her motivation to teach: to empower young people and expand opportunities for them to enact positive change in the world. Since graduating from TU, Meghan has spent the last four years teaching 7th grade reading and language arts in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. Over her summer break in 2015, Meghan volunteered with BECA’s summer camp program, and upon leaving, promised herself she would return as soon as she could. Outside of teaching and traveling, Meghan enjoys studying martial arts, serving as the “DJ” (playlist specialist) of her school’s dances, seeking out live music, and spending time on the Chesapeake Bay. Now, Meghan is thrilled at this opportunity to return to Honduras as a full-year volunteer teacher with BECA.

Amigos de Jesus

Christina graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2012 with a double major in Sustainable Food & Farming and Italian Studies. After working two growing seasons at organic Red Fire Farm, she embarked on a four-month volunteer farming journey across Italy, where she bottled wine and picked up plenty of horse poop. Upon her return, she began her career as an educator at the Berkshire Outdoor Center in Massachusetts. Due to the seasonal nature of outdoor education, she had the privilege to work at outdoor centers and farms in New Zealand, as well.

Having grown up in a multicultural household, cultural and linguistic immersion has always been part of her upbringing. She is very close with her family and attests much of her personal identity to having a deep understanding of her family history. Christina is looking forward to the challenge of transitioning into classroom teaching and learning about Honduran life. With her BECA experience, she hopes to go into ESL teaching and community activism back home.

Most recently, she has begun to explore poetry and relies on writing as a major processing tool. You can always talk to her about pizza, Broad City, and the artistic, biographical and political spheres of Beyoncè’s work.

Lena is from Los Angeles, California. In May, she graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon where she received her B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology with a minor in Ethnic Studies. During her junior year, she participated in the Border Studies Program in Tucson, Arizona. The program focused on border issues between the United States and Mexico exploring its effects both systematically and individually. The program helped ignite her desire to work with and support the immigrant community as well as to learn Spanish. She continued to foster these interests by working with programs in Portland, such as the Migrant Education Program and Conexiones. She see BECA as a perfect sector into her postgraduate life, as it gives her the ability to incorporate previous experiences while developing newfound skills. She is very excited to learn and grow with the help of the children in her class, and see their growth and personal development throughout the year.

Morgan grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago as an avid Bears and Cubs fan and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2017 with a degree in History and Organizational Studies. While in college, she was a Tour Guide for Michigan and was involved in Michigan Club Boxing and Habitat for Humanity. While she will not compete after college, Morgan has competed in amateur college boxing bouts for Michigan and has won two out of three of her official fights up to date. She also loves volunteering on weekends for Habitat for Humanity by constructing houses one shelf at a time. Eating, working out, reading, traveling, and sports all make up Morgan’s Fav Five. She enjoys working out each day and then eating food to replenish. Morgan is also on a quest to read as many classics in literature as she can, and she is currently working her way through Les Miserables. She is very close with her family and friends, and she hopes they will come to visit her in Honduras. She hopes to attend law school in the future to become an International Human Rights lawyer. She is excited about the upcoming year to see what BECA and Honduras hold for her!

Amelia is a recent graduate of Mississippi State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Educational Psychology and a double minor in General Psychology and International Studies. She has volunteered at Amigos de Jesus (ADJ) before through their short-term volunteer program and is ecstatic about finally being able to spend a year at ADJ working in BECA’s school. She loves to travel and learn about languages, cultures, and foods different than her own. She is passionate about the welfare and education of all children as well as equality and social justice throughout the world. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling, being outside with her two sweet rescue doggos, planning events, and relaxing with her friends. She hopes to continue her studies in Educational Psychology and International Studies by attending graduate school and interning with organizations that focus on the safety, education, and holistic well-being of children in conflict environments.

Raised in a small town in southwest Virginia, Bentley was given the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico and El Salvador for missionary work during high school. Through these trips she discovered her fascination with Latin American culture and the Spanish language. She decided to further her education at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), majoring in International Studies and minoring in Spanish. At Tech, she was active in many service-minded organizations, ranging from refugee resettlement to tutoring and ESL. She studied abroad her senior year in Quito, Ecuador where she lived with a host family and got first-hand experience with the spirited Ecuadorian culture. She found that her passions were a perfect fit for BECA, admiring the organization's commitment of selfless service to such a deserving group of children. She is humbled to be a member of the BECA team for the 2017-2018 year, and anxiously anticipate the life-changing experiences that it will bring.

Max graduated with distinctive honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2017, where he studied Rehabilitation Psychology and Spanish. While attending the UW, Max served as the Office Manager for the Wisconsin Collaborative Education Research Network, worked as the assistant to the Director of Community Relations for the UW, and was the Co-Chair for the School of Social Work's student organization. Growing up in a family in which education was highly valued, Max believes that education is the greatest way to create positive social change in the community, advocating for equal educational opportunities for all. While always having an interest of working in the education sector, his passion for living and working abroad was sparked after studying abroad in Granada, Spain. He is excited to be working with BECA to realize positive change, participate in a vibrant and collaborative environment, and learn about education on an international level. Looking towards the future upon returning to the States, he anticipates to go to graduate school for School Psychology or School Social Work to ultimately become an agent of change for marginalized, minority populations in the school system.

Tim Havlat (ADJ Admin) is looking forward to returning to BECA to serve as the Program Administrator at Amigos de Jesus for the 2017-2018 school year after teaching fifth grade at ADJ in 2016-2017. Tim graduated from Carnegie Melon University with a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry. After college and prior to joining BECA, he worked for three years as a market maker at IMC, a Dutch trading company. He is excited to be able to return to BECA for another year and continue to support the students, volunteers, and community!

Laura graduated from The University of Michigan in April 2016, with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a minor in Community Action. While in college, she was involved in numerous student organizations that focused on girls’ education, poverty, public health, and social justice and volunteered at a local hospital. She hopes to return to school to pursue her masters in Public Health. She was raised in Michigan but has been lucky enough to travel around the world, both volunteering and studying abroad, and loves learning about new cultures. She is an avid adventurer and loves to hike, rock climb, skydive, meditate, read, and try new things. She is passionate about empowering others and extending compassion to everyone. She is so excited for her time with BECA and cannot wait to meet her students!

Santa Monica Bilingual School

Emily was born and raised in Fresno, California and graduated from Fresno State in 2013 with a Bachelor’s in Communication. During college, she was able to travel and serve in Costa Rica and Africa, which is where she fell in love with international service. Since graduating, She have been able to return to Swaziland, Africa where she lived and worked at an orphanage for a few months in 2014. She later went on to serve with Mercy Volunteer Corps in Baltimore, Maryland where she served adults with intellectual disabilities. Emily then returned home to California where she was the Operations Manager for an in-home care agency. It was during that year, that she quickly realized the corporate world was not for her, and when offered, greatly accepted a second year of AmeriCorps service in Austin, Texas. Emily recently finished her service year in Austin, Texas teaching college preparatory classes to high school students. Emily has never been to Honduras so she am excited to experience a new culture and country and dive deeper into the realm of teaching! Lastly, she is a die-hard Seattle Seahawks fan, and her life revolves around football in the Fall. Go Hawks!

Christopher Ruiz is a junior studying Communication & Publicity at Universidad Privada in San Pedro Sula and plans on continuing his education at the university by pursuing a second degree in English and well as studying Cinematography. Chris is from Cofradia, Honduras and graduated from BECA’s San Jeronimo Bilingual School in 2010. His experience at SJBS cultivated a passion for English learning so he chose to return to the BECA program this year as a teacher at Santa Monica, BECA’s second school location. Chris feels that his first-hand experience as a student in a BECA school will help him be able to guide the new generation of BECA students as he moves into the role of teacher. In the future, he hopes to continue working with nonprofit organizations that focus specifically on issues pertaining to children as well as organizations that focus on environmental issues. He is an advocate for bilingual education and plans to pursue this passion particularly through working in the community with BECA as the program continues to grow. Chris loves to play soccer with his friends every week and travel throughout Honduras to be exposed to all of the many experiences and places that his beautiful country has to offer. Once he has completed his Honduras-travel bucket list, he hopes to be able to visit every country in the world.

Nely Vásquez was born in Yamaranguila, Intibucá, Honduras. She is 19 years old and just finished two years studying at The Leadership Center (TLC). She is very passionate about education. She is the youngest of 9 kids. She lives with her mother and one sister. Her other siblings are married and they have their own families. Most of them live in the same town. And José, the fourth of her siblings, works in Puerto Cortés, Honduras. Her mother stays at home. Her family is working on a strawberry farm, which is run by Carlos, one of her brothers, who is in charge of everything. Sometimes the rest of her siblings go to the farm to help him, as Nely does when she is home during holidays and vacation. Nely graduated high school in 2014 and was recommended to study at The Leadership Center by one of her teachers. TLC has been an important part of her life, and it has helped her to grow in her personal and professional life. After BECA Nely wants to return to her community, find a teaching job, and put into practice her knowledge and experience from TLC and BECA.

Originally from Austin, Texas, Marilyn Schwartz graduated this Spring from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. where she studied Political Science and Spanish and Latin American Languages, Literatures and Cultures. Her studies allowed her to study abroad in Santiago de Chile, San Jose, Costa Rica and Guanajuato, Mexico; each an incredible experience giving her a broadened perspective on the expansive diversity of Latin America. While attending college she was involved in a bilingual after-school tutoring program in Washington D.C. where she developed strong relationships with her students and with that a passion for working with children. Marilyn’s combine interests of language acquisition and public policy resulted in a fascination of bilingual education policy in the U.S. and beyond. This passion combined with the goal of living in Central America led her to BECA. Marilyn is nervous, thrilled and humbled to be able to begin her new chapter in Honduras with such an incredible organization.

Annie is incredibly excited to be teaching in Honduras next school year! She graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Environmental Education in the spring of 2016 and has since been living in Santa Fe, NM teaching cooking and nutrition classes at two of the public elementary schools in town. Annie is originally from Chattanooga, TN but has loved exploring and living all over the United States over the past 5 years. In 2016 she was lucky enough to get the opportunity to live in Southeast Asia to study sustainable villages and communities. She learned an abundance of knowledge from the people of Thailand, Burma, and Vietnam. While she has never been to Central America, she is looking forward to jumping in and exploring beautiful Honduras. She is excited to soak up as much information and experience as she can throughout the next school year and am hoping to bring some of my knowledge and skills into the classroom as well. Let the learning begin!

Originally from a small town in Massachusetts, Jocelyn moved to Greensboro, NC for college. She graduated from Guilford College in May 2017 with double majors in History and Secondary Education (grades 6-12 social studies licensure). While at Guilford College, she worked in the Office of Admission as the Tour Guide Coordinator as well as the Student Coordinator for Overnight Visits and served as a RA for three years. She was fortunate to study abroad in both Panama and Peru and serve as a teaching fellow for Breakthrough Collaboratives in Silicon Valley. She presented auto-ethnographic research at the American Educational Research Association in 2016 (regarding adequate re-entry for pre-service teachers who served in post-colonial nations) and in 2017 (regarding culturally responsive teacher preparation for biracial teachers). She is very excited to begin her experience with BECA and to grow with her students. She is always in the market for arts and crafts and is looking forward to incorporating that into the classroom with BECA.

Megan graduated from UC Berkeley in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Environmental Biology, where she worked in a lab researching land management techniques for carbon sequestration and served on the leadership team for an organization that connected students with volunteer opportunities in a local animal shelter. She then moved to Austin, Texas to serve with AmeriCorps as a tutor and mentor in an elementary school where she discovered her passion for justice for equality in education. She decided to become a teacher and move back home to Dallas, Texas to teach chemistry and biology for two years. Megan is so excited to bring her teaching experience to BECA and challenge herself as a teacher in a new culture and explore the beautiful country of Honduras!

Rosa Hernandez (SMBS Admin) was born in Atlantida, Honduras. She graduated from The Leadership Center, a women’s college whose mission is to train and develop generations of ethical leaders, with a Business Leadership Degree. Rosa is passionate about education and women’s rights and that is why she is returning to BECA for a second year! She runs an organization called Women with Purpose whose mission is to help Honduran women find a meaningful purpose for their lives in society. Because of her passion for development, she decided to work for BECA and get to know more about building strong communities, which is a huge part of Women with Purpose’s vision. She is happy to return to BECA and looks forward to growing in this new position. She is passionate about change and this is a huge change in her life. Thanks, BECA!!!

Emily was born in Anchorage, AK, but raised in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate NY. She graduated from Dickinson College in May of 2016 with majors in Psychology and Spanish and a passion for service. During her time at Dickinson she was lucky to be able to study abroad in Malaga, Spain, and to do research on unpaid domestic labor in Cuba, while at the same time immersing herself in various service organizations and serving as the captain for the varsity volleyball team. She is a lover of all things dogs (mostly my own), food (vegetarian only, sorry), and the outdoors (mountains in particular); and she's passionate about empowering the people around her to create positive change in their lives and the world around them. She knew that following graduation she wanted to spend time speaking in a Spanish speaking country and working for an organization rooted in sustainable positive change, and she found the perfect match with BECA. She is so honored to be a part of the BECA team for a second year in a row, and she hopes that she will be able to continue to be a positive contributor at the Santa Monica Bilingual school and that she will broaden her own perspectives on aid and advocacy.

Eva Pokorny was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She spent her childhood enjoying the natural wonders that the state had to offer, and found her passion in dancing, literature, and art. She grew up as a dual citizen, celebrating both American and Czech cultures in her home, and she frequently traveled to the Czech Republic to spend time with her family. Eva chose to attend schools in Colorado Springs which offered the International Baccalaureate Program, a program which inspired an international mindset and fostered a worldly view throughout her education.

In 2014 Eva graduated from Tulane University with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. She completed the Pre-Medical curriculum and is considering medical school in the near future. After she graduated, she spent a year with the Brain Injury Association of Louisiana as the Associate Director, and dedicated herself to improving the quality of life of brain and spinal cord injury survivors in the state of Louisiana.

Eva has a passion for travel, service, science, and education, which inspired her to apply for BECA. In the long term, Eva hopes to work closely with Doctors without Borders and travel around the world providing medical care. Eva is so excited for this year with BECA in Honduras, and hopes that this year will help her grow as a global citizen.