Megan Evangeliste’s interest in travel led her to a path that’s close to her heart: teaching and guiding international students. It was a path paved with opportunities to pursue her passion, and she did not leave any stone unturned as she lived each day with her goal in mind.
“Throughout my time as a college student and in my professional career, I’ve made an effort to save and plan for travel. In doing so, I’ve taken some incredible trips and experienced other cultures in my free time,” she recalls.
Born of Italian, Irish and German descent, Megan hails from Greensburg, Pennsylvania and grew up in 60 acres of farmland. She attended private Catholic schools beginning at Montessori in early childhood to Duquesne University for higher education. She is married to another Duquesnian and they now live in Pittsburgh with their bloodhound dog named Levon and a 30-year-old turtle named Raphael.
After enrolling in a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies, Megan decided to study abroad at Duquesne’s campus in Rome, Italy and at the University of Ireland, Galway. This introduced her to the Center for Global Engagement, which later became her employer. After returning from study abroad in Rome, she became a tutor at Duquesne’s ESL (English as a Second Language) program.
She quickly realised that she loved teaching and guiding international students. Because of this experience, she knew that she wanted to return to school to earn a master’s degrees in education: M.S.Ed. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and M.S.Ed. in English as a Second Language.
During her master’s program, she applied at the very office (where she now works) to be a graduate assistant. At the time, she was working in a school as an assistant teacher while attending graduate school, so taking the assistantship would have meant quitting her job. Her current executive director at Duquesne called to tell her that she was not chosen for the assistantship. Initially, she was disappointed but also felt grateful that he had personally called to give her the news.
On her first day in her new position as the International Admissions Coordinator, her executive director said that he had denied her the assistantship because she was overqualified. “It’s a good thing that I didn’t take the initial rejection to heart or I wouldn’t be in my current role today,” Megan relates.
For the last ten years, she has served on an international scale through refugee resettlement and education. She started out teaching ESL, mainly teaching refugee children from Bhutan, Syria, Myanmar and Uganda in Pittsburgh public schools. She also served as the Community and Family Engagement Coordinator for her K-5 school in Pittsburgh. During this time, she was asked to teach as adjunct faculty in the School of Education, ESL at Duquesne University. She instructed pre-service ESL teachers in language and literacy instruction best practices.
Building relationships with people from around the world
Megan has successfully achieved her dreams and attributes her success to the love and support that she received from her family as well as through self-direction and motivation. “Going to schools where excellence is a standard and learning with peers who were also highly motivated supported my development in many ways,” she points out. “Being distinguished in my professional career has meant exhibiting competency and kindness to all colleagues, students, parents, and administrators. Without strong interpersonal relationships, all other accomplishments mean little.”
When asked what she likes about her job, Megan quips: “The joys are meeting and developing relationships with people from around the world. Finding the connections that we share has been the most exciting experience.”
Articulating the Duquesne University fit
Duquesne University’s strategic plan calls for exposing students to languages, cultures and religions that differ from their own in order to encourage them to respond to the needs of others. “We wish to increase our international student enrolment and build the Gateway and Pathway Programs to best serve students,” she adds. “My role as International Admissions Coordinator has greatly impacted my life, in that I now am working in higher education and meeting with people around the world.”
Megan points out that she and her team are looking for talented potential students who are best qualified to gain from the opportunities Duquesne University offers for intellectual, spiritual and social growth.
She communicates this to her education agents and counsellors by conducting personalised meetings and agent trainings. She also hosts webinars for priority agents and identifies the type of students that best fit Duquesne University.
Being passionate about professional and personal interests
Although she has duties from both Duquesne and EduCo, Megan believes that one supports the other. She plans her days accordingly by prioritising tasks and chipping away at long-term projects. She focuses on one task at a time and does not allow herself to be overwhelmed by the list of things to accomplish.
As stress relief, she enjoys running and walking outdoors, swimming and practising yoga. Aside from travel, Megan is also passionate about creating art. “I also have always loved art and creating. I primarily work in glass – stained and fused glass – at this time, but grew up oil painting and drawing. I was initially a Studio Art major at Duquesne, which is no longer a program offering!” she recalls with a smile.
Megan believes that studying at Duquesne University opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities. She speaks from personal experience: “The close relationships that are built at Duquesne continue to enrich my life on a daily basis. Because of my strong bonds with professors, I’ve been able to grow professionally with their support.”