Meet Our July Alumna Spotlight: Caroline Been
Our July Alumna Spotlight features Caroline Been! Read more to hear what she has been doing since she graduated in May 2020.
After graduation, Caroline went to work at Fulbright in Akhaltsikhe, Georgia (the country)! Her favorite thing about her job is the opportunity she has to make my students feel comfortable enough to participate and excited about mastering a new language. This August, Caroline is beginning to pursue a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics/TESOL at the University of Alabama in August!
Caroline says Theta shaped her to be the woman she is today by instilling a strong sense of confidence in her and she felt empowered to pursue goals that she thought were unattainable, she felt comfortable in leadership positions and met so many incredible role models that she still admires today.
Theta pledge class: MC16
When you graduated from Mizzou: May 2020
Major/Degree: BA International Studies, BA Russian Studies, Minor in Political Science
Hometown: Fayetteville, Arkansas
Where you live now: Tuscaloosa, Alabama starting in August
Where do you work right now/what have you been up to since graduation?
I graduated in 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic and worldwide lockdowns. I had been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Georgia, but it was delayed due to the pandemic. I finally got to begin my Fulbright in September of 2021. The Fulbright Program is a cultural exchange program funded by the US government that provides fellowships for research, studying, or teaching abroad. I received an English Teaching Assistant position in a small town called Akhaltsikhe in Georgia (the country!)
I have been working as an English Teaching Assistant in the English Philology Department of Samtskhe-Javakheti State University since September, in addition to volunteering with the local American Corner and ACCESS programs. Both of these initiatives are also funded by the US government. Now that the academic year is over, I am excited to begin pursuing a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics/TESOL at the University of Alabama in August!
What's your favorite thing about your job?
There are so many things I have loved about working as an ETA for the past year. Still, my favorite would have to be the opportunity I have to make my students feel comfortable enough to participate and excited about mastering a new language. In my own experience of studying foreign languages, I would always get really nervous and shy when interacting with a native speaker, so being able to take away that sense of anxiety or judgment with my own students has been really meaningful for me.
What's your favorite thing about the city you live in?
Akhaltsikhe is a really small town in Southwestern Georgia. Since it is so small, I have had the privilege of being able to immerse myself in the community and make some really meaningful connections with a lot of different people. I would regularly see my students and co-teachers on the street, and I got to know taxi drivers, the cashiers at the grocery stores, and different shopkeepers around town. Living in such a tight-knit community also meant that I had the privilege of being invited to birthday parties, weekend trips, and holiday celebrations with my co-workers, students, and their families. I really value feeling connected to the community I’m living in, so I felt so lucky to be welcomed as a guest in Akhaltsikhe for the year!
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about a lot of things, but if I have to speak generally, I would say I am most passionate about making meaningful connections- whether that be with people or places. I feel so lucky to feel deeply connected to places like my hometown of Fayetteville, Mizzou and Columbia, and now, Akhaltsikhe and Georgia. I also value all of my relationships with my friends, family, and students. There is a lot of effort that goes into forging those meaningful connections, like taking the time to learn the history and nuances of a new place, intentionally spending time with those around you, stepping out of your comfort zone, and being willing to be vulnerable- socially, emotionally, and situationally. I’m passionate about all of those pieces of the process.
What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to watch movies, spend time with friends, crochet, and occasionally play backgammon. Crocheting was a pandemic-related obsession, and I learned how to play backgammon while in Georgia!
Other future career/life goals:
After I graduate from the University of Alabama, I’d love to teach abroad for a few more years. Ideally, I would love to go back to Georgia as an English Language specialist, and eventually, (many years from now) I’d love to work for the US Department of State as a Regional English Language Officer.
What do you miss most about Mizzou?
So many things! I miss seeing my friends every day and always having something to do or somewhere to be. I also miss all of the Mizzou traditions, like homecoming and Tiger walk.
What do you miss most about Theta?
I really miss living in the house with all of my friends. There was always something to do or someone to talk to, and I was literally never bored. I loved studying with friends in the formal library or silent study and getting distracted in the morning room. I also miss catching up with everyone after a football game or formal weekend during Sunday brunch. I have so many sweet memories in 603 that I miss!
What is one thing you took away from being a part of Theta in college that has shaped you into the woman you are today?
Theta instilled a strong sense of confidence in me that I am so grateful for. I felt empowered to pursue goals that I thought were unattainable, felt comfortable in leadership positions, and met so many incredible role models that I still admire today. Most importantly, though, I think being a member of Alpha Mu Theta gave me the confidence to be loud about the things that really matter to me. I am so grateful for all of the women before me who passionately shared about the issues that meant the most to them- whether that be disability rights, social justice issues, LGBTQ+ activism, sustainability, or food insecurity. Witnessing so many inspiring women take action for the causes they cared about has given me the confidence to do the same.
Do you have a specific favorite Theta memory?
Definitely winning Homecoming my junior year! We had all worked so hard every year before that, so being able to finally win during our junior year was really special. It was also a great way to bond with the younger members, and I am so grateful to have made some really great friends that year during Homecoming!