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Class of 2017: Zetlin Launches Teaching Career in Taiwan

Published on 05/15/17 in News » Articles

Ariana ZetlinGraduating with a Master of Teaching degree in Secondary Social Studies Education, Ariana Zetlin has honed her desire to create positive change in American education. While her aim is to impact more systemic changes from a policy level, Zetlin plans to begin her career with many years in the classroom. Her tenure as a teacher will begin teaching English in Taiwan.

Before she begins her next adventure, we asked Zetlin to reflect on her time at the Curry School.


How did your journey bring you to Curry?

For the majority of my high school career I actually thought I was going to study engineering in college! Then, the summer before senior year, I watched the documentary Waiting for “Superman” which exposed inequities in the American education system, and I found myself researching in-depth about education reform. I recognized that I was passionate about studying this subject, and I learned about the opportunity to earn a Master’s degree here at Curry.

While my ultimate goal is to pursue education policy, I plan to teach for many years because I genuinely enjoy working with students and because I believe it is essential to gain first-hand experience before proposing reforms that influence the classrooms. For this reason, the combined B/MT program offered through Curry was the perfect academic path for me, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been afforded this opportunity.

What is the most significant thing that has shaped your time while you’ve been here?

The chance to participate in student self-governance through organizations like Honor at UVa has been transformative for me, and I believe it will even influence my approach to teaching. I felt incredibly inspired during my time here by the fact that my classmates and I were given very real responsibilities and opportunities to enact meaningful change at the University level. Now I am especially committed to fostering this same sense of empowerment and confidence in my future students!

If you can name one person, who at Curry made a special impact during your studies and how?

I would be hard pressed to find someone at Curry who hasn’t impacted me, but the first person who comes to mind is my classmate Bret Kampf. I vividly remember sitting in the common area of Ruffner Hall at the end of an exhausting week last year, and Bret came over to cheer me up before we had even really known each other. I asked if he, too, was feeling overwhelmed; he shook his head no, laughed, and proceeded to explain how he was teaching full time, taking Curry classes, training for an Ironman competition, and hadn’t slept in days… but everything was great! His energy, positivity, and passion for teaching are contagious, and I am forever grateful for his constant support and encouragement.

But above all, his impact has been so meaningful to my studies because it highlights the importance of collaboration. The Curry School has provided me more guidance and resources than I could have ever asked for (and the most wonderful advisor- thank you, Dr. van Hover!), but Bret’s impact serves as an important reminder that our peers are some of our most invaluable resources as well. 

What is one thing you learned here that surprised you?

While getting to know other students in the program, I was surprised to learn how many of my classmates had recognized their desires to teach after working for years in entirely different fields, like business or politics. They contributed very unique perspectives to the program, and it was fascinating to learn about their life experiences and decisions that brought them to Curry.

What will you be doing next?

Since deciding to pursue the education field, I have aspired to teach abroad in order to develop a better understanding of foreign education systems and to explore effective instructional approaches in diverse contexts. I am unbelievably excited for this vision to become a reality next year, as I will be teaching English at Tunghai University in Taiwan through the Princeton in Asia fellowship program!

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