After graduating from Westminster College in 2010, Whitney Griffin truly felt like a global leader. She followed her affinity for world travel to Europe and beyond, exploring culture, history, and life abroad. Whitney is now teaching English to children and adults in Valladolid, Spain.
Eventually, Whitney hopes to return home to the United States and find a career that will enable her to travel and to blend her heritage with the global community. For now, she is enjoying life in Spain, helping children and adults learn a language that will open doors for them in the future. Westminster's international opportunities helped Whitney shape her life and her dreams; she has undoubtedly made the world her classroom.
Name: Whitney Griffin
Class Year: 2010
Major: International Business and Spanish / Minor: Leadership Studies
Job Title: Language and Culture Assistant with the “Language and Culture Assistants in Spain”
City, Country: Valladolid, Spain
Describe your current work:
I give conversation based English classes to high school students and fellow teachers in Valladolid, Spain. Through cultural activities and real life stories, I help students see the importance of learning English inside and outside the classroom. After graduation, I made Europe my classroom; I use my free time to travel and learn about culture first hand!
What role did Westminster play in leading you to your current position/studies?
Westminster’s liberal arts education gives students the chance to try many things and decide the best path to pursue. Through programs such as study abroad, students, like me, can gain firsthand experience living and learning about culture. I studied abroad twice in Salamanca, Spain, and once in Malaga, Spain; due to these experiences and the knowledge I gained from my Spanish, Business, and Leadership courses at Westminster, I truly feel I graduated from Westminster as a “global leader”.
What leadership opportunities did you have at Westminster? In what ways did your Westminster education help you become a leader?
I was very active at Westminster. Whether it was an activity with Student Foundation, Residential Life, Westminster Basketball, my sorority - Kappa Alpha Theta, or working in the International and Off-Campus Programs Office, I had many opportunities to work with people from all walks of life. I often participated in Student-Parent panels at Welcome to Westminster and Scholarship Day events and became a confident public speaker. These hand-on experiences taught me how to be patient, to work both individually and as part of a team and to be a confident person. These three things are the most important skills in my job, today, as I live and work in a foreign country.
Which of your achievements are you most proud of? What do you consider your greatest success?
I can’t say I’ve really “achieved” anything; I’ve just followed my heart. When you find something that moves you, go for it! After studying abroad in Spain in 2008, I always felt a part of me was missing. After graduation, I came back to Spain and truly feel like a whole person again.
Living and working in a foreign country, completely on my own, is my greatest success! Overcoming a language barrier and feeling comfortable in a foreign world are great tasks to have overcome. I’m excited about the opportunities and challenges awaiting me in life; I know this is only the beginning!
How did your Westminster education inspire your achievements?
Life is about making the right choices for you. Westminster gave me many choices; it was my job to pick the right ones and make them my own. The choices I made during my undergrad at Westminster helped me get where I am today. After quitting basketball, and looking at the bigger picture, I knew the path I wanted to pursue and I’m living it today.
What successes and achievements do you envision in your future? What are your goals?
Short term goals include improving my Spanish, networking for future career opportunities, and conquering (my never ending!) travel list. I have been accepted to two programs for the upcoming school year: Language and Culture Assistants in Spain (my current job) and Visiting Professors in Spain (a similar position with more responsibilities) and hope to continue living and learning the Spanish way of life for another year!
Looking more long term, I hope to find a career in the United States that allows me to combine my Westminster education with my passion for study abroad/working abroad. I envision myself in a career working closely with Spain, traveling often, and having the opportunity to continue learning about new places and cultures of the world. I would like to get my Master’s degree, possibly in international education.
What advice can you offer current Westminster students?
Take advantage of the wonderful international experiences Westminster has for you: study abroad, direct enrollment opportunities such as those in Oviedo, Spain, and Winchester, England, the Take-A-Friend Home Program, and courses like “Biology in Belize”. While you can learn a lot in the classroom, try to make the world your classroom. I think the only way to understand a foreign culture is to experience it first hand: smell it, get lost in it, live it... You’ll find that the world is the way it is, not how you imagine it to be. Embrace it and encourage others to do the same!
Read Whitney's Blog