I am from the Beaver Falls, PA (one-hour west of Pittsburgh), where I was raised in an Italian/Irish Catholic family with my sister and brother (lots of cousins), and my parents, who owned a small grocery store.
As a child, I was always very interested in international cultures, languages, and missions – though I had only been to Florida. I began to study French and read a lot of biographies, such as Amy Carmichael and Jim Elliot. Wanting to experience a new “culture,” I attended Furman University in South Carolina (which seemed like a new cultural experience to me!) and I ran cross country and played basketball there. I joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and began attending Protestant churches and reading about the Church Reformers.
After Furman, I had an amazing experience studying abroad in Germany and seeing Eastern and Western Europe through Rotary International. This eye-opening experience, as well as working in Botswana, prompted me to study International Development. I worked for 7 years with the Pacific Basin in the federal government in Washington, DC and was very involved in my church’s Alpha ministry. Wanting to make a more personal impact, I transitioned into teaching English as a Second Language in my 30s and earned another Masters.
Since 2012 I have taught at the University of Pittsburgh in their English Language Institute. Since 2016 I have also worked part-time at Church of the Ascension leading our International Ministry which centers on English as a Second Language classes. I am really happy that starting August 2020 I will be working full-time at Ascension in this capacity, trying to grow our relationships with internationals even more!
What I enjoy most about working in the International Ministry is learning about other cultures and linking internationals to resources – be it housing or employment or legal or specifically Christian resources from within our church. I also enjoy seeing people improve in their language development, exploring on field trips, having fun talking to each other, and for some, participating in Bible studies and discipleship classes. Finally, making new international friends myself is what I enjoy most about this ministry.