May 29 will go down as an exceptional moment in Anna Williamson’s, ’16, life. It’s when she was offered a position teaching students who are in kindergarten through age 12 in Madrid, Spain. As the psychology major and Spanish minor eagerly awaits the start of her new profession, she expresses her thanks to Georgia College for preparing her for this teaching opportunity.
“Georgia College has fully prepared me for this opportunity abroad,” said Williamson, who was a research assistant to Dr. Tsu-Ming Chiang, professor of psychology. “She strongly encouraged me to follow my dream.”
Through her study abroad experience last summer, Williamson knew she wanted to live in Madrid. Her professor introduced Williamson to several teaching programs in Spain. She also conferred with her cousin who taught for two years in Spain. Williamson found programs for a public school and private school, was accepted to both and chose to go with Colegio Gamo Diana—a Catholic school in Madrid.
“I have always enjoyed working with children,” said Williamson. “I look forward to completely immersing myself in the culture, and I cannot think of a better way than working hands on with a variety of students.”
As head teacher in a local outreach program through Chiang’s lab, Williamson was able to develop her leadership skills.
“I was able to serve the children of our community,” she said. “I was also able to produce three different research papers from her lab and travel around the United States with Dr. Chiang to present them. This experience gave me the confidence to know I will do well as a head teacher in Spain. The experiences I gained in her lab will also help me achieve my dream of attending graduate school.”
According to Williamson, Chiang changed the trajectory of her life through advice and guidance.
“I was weary that going abroad for a year would hinder my ability to get accepted into a graduate program, but Dr. Chiang encouraged me to continue to follow my dream,” she said. “She is allowing me to collaborate with her on some cross-cultural research while I am in Spain. This will help me in graduate school, and allow me to continue to utilize all of the skills I have learned as an undergraduate while applying it to the real world.”
While Williamson is abroad, the private school has enrolled her in secondary education at Comillas University where she will take classes on a variety of teaching topics. If she attends for two years, she will obtain her master’s degree. Williamson plans to pursue her masters in developmental psychology.
“With the ability to analyze situations, think critically and problem solve, I feel I am capable of anything in Spain,” said Williamson. “I have taken the time to develop a personal relationship with each professor at Georgia College. I have taken and cherish all the advice they have to offer.”
According to Williamson, the psychology department faculty fully prepared her for the next step in her journey to teaching and attending graduate school in Madrid.
"Ms. Williamson's accomplishment is a true testimony of what liberal arts education offers—facilitating students' learning through exploration of a wide range of experiences to develop one's goals and passions for life,” said Chiang. “I am so proud of her. She took advantage of studying abroad, research lab and service learning in addition to required courses. In the end, all the faculty, staff and peers in the department and university helped shape the person she is and will become. I am teaching study abroad in Italy at the moment. I can see many future successful cases like Ms. Williamson to come."