*One of a collection of stories written by alumni for the Jepson School's 20th Anniversary

When choosing a college, the University of Richmond was my first choice largely because of the Jepson School. I entered college with the intention of pursuing a career as a teacher and considered a degree in leadership to be the ideal supplement to this profession. Additionally, I thought that the Jepson School could provide a unique avenue through which I could combine my passion for teaching with my interest in international education, particularly in developing countries.

I have been fortunate to have already had several opportunities to put classroom learning into practice. Throughout college I served as a teaching assistant at an elementary school in Highland Park, one of Richmond’s more economically distressed neighborhoods. With the support of a Burrus Fellowship from the Jepson School, I was able to complete my internship in Namibia where I worked as a technology teacher at a rural high school serving more than 800 students. After graduation, with the strength of the Jepson reputation and previous experience living and working abroad, I was accepted in the Fulbright Program and received a grant to teach in Indonesia for the 2011-12 school year. Currently, I am utilizing a variety of leadership skills I developed through my Jepson coursework on a daily basis working as a high school teacher in Hanover County, Virginia.

Through all of these experiences, I have found my leadership and education coursework to be invaluable. While serving as a teacher may not be a particularly high-powered leadership position, it is one that I find immensely rewarding. On a daily basis I am able to witness my students’ development as critical thinkers, problem solvers and active participants in the world around them, which I am able to expand because of the knowledge and experience I received through my Jepson education. Helping to influence and advocate for the next generation of leaders is one reason that I wanted to become a teacher and I am achieving my goal every day. Through my experiences abroad as well as my current position, however, it has become more glaringly obvious how crucial a quality education is to the success of the next generation as well as the many intricate and complex challenges that today’s education systems face. I am excited for what my future in the field of education may be and hope that with additional experience, I will find opportunities to be more actively involved in finding solutions to some of these systemic obstacles. I know that I have been sufficiently prepared thanks to the Jepson School and the University of Richmond and look forward to what the future holds.

--Jen Loughnane