Madeline Griffin will be teaching English in Spain

by Billy Chandler
Our Emory & Henry seniors are preparing to graduate and change the world.

Madeline Griffin, from Strawberry Plains, Tenn., is graduating in May 2021 with a degree in International Studies, Hispanic Studies and History.

On campus, Griffin was heavily involved with international education. She served as the lead Global Ambassador, where she works with the other global ambassadors and Dr. Gaia to promote global citizenship and intercultural awareness through social media and programming, as well as advise students on how they can study abroad.

“My work there has never been just another job for me - I truly value my role and sincerely hope that my work can help to foster a sense of global citizenship and international awareness to similar students who, like myself, may not have been exposed to that sort of thinking until college,” says Griffin. “I benefited immensely from my own study abroad experiences. They encouraged me to really challenge my own worldview. I grew up in a mainly rural area, where I had little exposure to international or intercultural viewpoints, so I hope that my involvement there and the programming I am involved with will help current and future students to do the same.”

Griffin was also a member of the choir, honors program, the Spanish honors society Sigma Delta Pi, the political honors society Phi Eta Sigma and worked at the McGlothlin Center for the Arts student art gallery.

“I didn’t expect how much a liberal arts education and interdisciplinary study would enable me to better learn from, interpret, and analyze things in general,” says Griffin. “Because Emory & Henry is smaller and encourages various interests, there is room to take the initiative and create your own success in the way you choose. If I went to a larger university or had not been encouraged to seek out other perspectives, I’m not sure I would have been able to create my own opportunities for growth like I did–across various areas of interest as well.”

Griffin says her professors have been some of the people who have influenced her the most throughout her four years: “Dr. Fisher and Dr. Krause in the political science department have always pushed my understanding of the world and their courses are what gave me a curiosity about international politics in the first place. They have always encouraged my interests, and constantly inspire me to push myself both personally and academically. They have helped challenge my perspective, and see politics and the world we live in from multiple lenses and viewpoints. I cannot thank them enough for their consistent encouragement and guidance over the years.

Even though I have never taken a course with Dr Gaia, she has become a mentor to me in many ways. I started working for her in the Office of International Education just before the Pandemic, and since then she has allowed me to put so much creativity into my work and given me the space to follow my own ideas and design my own projects as a Global Ambassador. Aside from being a great boss, she is a wonderful human being who has been so supportive of me and my own professional goals and development. She has always done whatever possible to reach out to alumni or help me find programs that could further my interests. She has been a great ally to have on my side during such a difficult time in the world. I am forever grateful for her aid and support.

Dr. Vestal is an interim professor of Spanish, yet she has had a significant impact on my Spanish language journey. Her courses have introduced me to Hispanic culture and literature across Latin America and Spain and given me a true appreciation for them, and she has worked to give all of us students professional opportunities including interviewing a contemporary Spanish author, writing journal articles, trying to get them published, and she is even including me as a presenter to work with her at a conference over the summer.

As for the history department, I would be remiss not to mention Dr. Wells. I certainly did not come into Emory & Henry imagining that I would develop an interest in classical and ancient history. However, his courses have made me appreciate them and encourage me to see their value and connection to contemporary times as well.”

After graduation, Griffin will spend the summer learning more about foreign affairs and national security through the Hertog Foundation in Washington, DC. Then, starting in the fall, she will be an Assistant English teacher with the Spanish Auxiliares program in the Basque country region of Spain before pursuing graduate study and eventually a career in foreign policy.

I benefited immensely from my own study abroad experiences. They encouraged me to really challenge my own worldview. I grew up in a mainly rural area, where I had little exposure to international or intercultural viewpoints, so I hope that my involvement there and the programming I am involved with will help current and future students to do the same.
- Madeline Griffin

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