It’s not every day that your best friend asks you to spend a year with them in South Korea. But when Colleen Brian ‘11 began the application process for the World Service Corps, she asked Sally Norton ’11 to sign up with her.
The women didn’t know when they would leave or where they would be placed, but they knew one thing: if they were going anywhere, it was going to be together.
A year later, Colleen has returned from her 9-month term in South Korea while Sally is finishing up her longer term. After a year of learning Korean, both the oral and written language, and working tirelessly, doing everything from teaching English classes to organizing bible studies, Colleen is adjusting back to life in the United States. She is working with the Community of Christ church in Navoo, and this August, she’s on to her next big adventure: graduate school for Psychology at Western Illinois University.
Admission into her program is no small feat—only six students are annually accepted into the prestigious program. With those steep odds against her, Colleen also had the challenged of applying to graduate school while living halfway around the world. Colleen says she spent many late nights, perfecting her entrance essay (with help from her family and friends) and waiting until midnight in South Korea, so she could call Illinois at 10 a.m.
“Graceland gave me the chance to be out on my own, but still feel like I have a family to support me.”
After Colleen received news of her acceptance to Western Illinois, she had further work to do: acquiring an assistantship. With help from Colleen’s Residence Life background, working both as Assistant Hall Director for Tess Morgan and Amici House President, Colleen was able to nab an assistantship, which will pay for her entire first year of her graduate program.
After completing this three-year graduate program, Colleen hopes to work as a school psychologist. Colleen first discovered this passion while at Graceland. Originally wanting to work as a guidance counselor, Collen changed her mind after Professor of Psychology David Devonis gave a class assignment where students had to explore different degrees related to psychology.
“I found out more about school psychologists and knew it was exactly what I wanted to do. I want to have in-depth connections with my students. From that point on, I knew this was my new career path,” said Colleen.
Colleen praised Devnois’ methods of teaching, also noting that Assistant Professor of Human Services Nancy Wallace is “exceptional” and that Wallace helped her find her “perfect internship.”
While at Graceland, Colleen balanced her course work with Residence Life, Campus Ministries and her work at The Acacia, Graceland’s student yearbook. Colleen says that her experiences at Graceland have positively influenced her life, giving her lifelong friends and transforming her into a leader.
“The professors really want you to do well in school and they are there to support you and help you in any way they can,” said Colleen. “It allowed me to do the best that I could and now I’ll be going to grad school in the fall!”