About the MAFLT Community

Make New Connections in 2022 MAFLT@MSU
Make New Connections @MSU_MAFLT

The Master of Arts in Foreign Language Teaching is the largest graduate program in the MSU College of Arts and Letters, with students and alumni who represent 20 different languages, about 40 U.S. states, and countries around the world.

Almost all of our students begin the program as experienced teachers, and many leave the program with new jobs, new leadership positions, and opportunities to share their work and train other teachers. Read student bios on this page or click a button below to connect with current students and alumni. 

Current Students

Veronica ArriagaOrts - Headshot of her dog

Verónica Arriaga-Orts

Verónica was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, and moved with her family to the United States in 2007. She has a bachelor’s degree in architecture. However, however the love for her language and traditions pushed her to pursue a career as a Spanish teacher. Since then, she has taught Spanish to a variety of students in her current home state of Pennsylvania.

James Ayres

James has taught Spanish at McKinney Boyd High School for the past 14 years. He learned Spanish while living in Uruguay from 1997-99. He has developed a passion for learning about how language is acquired and tried to incorporate that into his language classroom. When not teaching James is busy with his wife Amber raising five boys. Any other extra time is spent running ultra marathons on the trails. James is very excited and to be a part of the MAFLT program and looks forward to the experience this will provide!
Picture of Sofia Bacasen sitting in a cafe

Sofia Bacasen

Sofia is from the Philippines but considers Athens, Greece as her hometown where she was born and raised. She can speak Greek, English, Filipino, Korean, and is currently working on her fifth language, Vietnamese. After earning her BA in Social Sciences from the University of the Philippines in 2011, her language teaching journey began with an initial interest in learning about cultures. She then took a Post-Grad Certificate in Education and has taught students from South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, and Thailand. She is currently in Vietnam, teaching middle school ELLs and coaching and mentoring fellow teachers. She loves coffee, music, books, and her cat, Mearn.

Betty Brown

Betty has taught Japanese at the Arkansas School of Mathematics Sciences and the Arts (ASMSA) since 2017. She has a degree in Japanese Education from Ball State University (chirp, chirp!) where she also studied German and ESL. Before moving to Arkansas, she taught English in Germany through the Fulbright program. In her free time, Betty enjoys knitting, hiking, and spending time with her cats.

Andrew Burke

Born in San Diego, California, Andrew Burke earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Hispanic Studies from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. With a minor in Latin American History, he completed his studies abroad in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic with a program focusing on Dominican-Haitian relations. Since graduating in 2009, Andrew has taught English in Spain, Chile, and most recently in Colombia with the Peace Corps. In the fall of 2020, Andrew began his first year teaching Spanish at a public school district in San Diego, CA and is excited to join the MAFLT community at MSU.
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Megan Carmody

Megan began teaching language in 2016 after graduating from Stonehill College with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and French/Spanish. She is now in her sixth year of teaching middle school French at Gates Middle School in Scituate, Massachusetts. She is eager to apply what she learns to her language classroom, where she strives to engage students in activities geared towards building proficiency. 

Laura Cordova

Laura graduated from college with a degree in Microbiology & Spanish. After working in the science field for six years and earning a B.S. in Biomedical Sciences, she decided she wanted to teach Spanish. She taught 6, 7. 8 grade Spanish at a Middle School, earned a Master’s in Humanities with a concentration in Spanish literature, and now she teaches introductory and intermediate Spanish at a community college. In her free time she likes to watch movies, read, and go on walks with her greyhound.
Mia Donovan - Headshot

Mia Chang Donovan

Mia has been teaching Japanese for over a decade. Before moving to Seattle in 2016, she taught at language schools in Japan and Hong Kong and online. Since moving to Seattle, Mia has continued teaching online and joined the faculty of City University of Seattle in 2021. In her free time, she enjoys painting beautiful nature scenes in Seattle and restaurant hopping.

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Jessica Charlton

Mrs. Charlton developed a love for travel and interacting with diverse cultures and persons from growing up in a military household, her life now as a military spouse, and her time spent abroad in Ecuador, South America. Her love for the Spanish language was sparked early on in high school and furthered throughout her college studies. Her love for teaching was realized while serving during the summers as the liaison between the local community in Ascazubi, Ecuador, and a team of medical doctors. Throughout her time spent in South America, Mrs. Charlton has formed strong bonds with the local community and a love for their culture and language. She is passionate about sharing this love for the language, people, and culture with her students through engaging and authentic learning experiences. Mrs. Charlton believes that world language learning is vital and necessary in education because it provides a means to understand and connect with citizens of the world, not just those we see around us. She is excited to join the cohort at MSU and can’t wait to get to know the community, professors, and her classmates.

Wendy Farabaugh

Salut! Wendy Farabaugh is a French teacher in Mentor, Ohio. She is in her second semester in the MAFLT program, and her fifth year as a teacher. She teaches French one (grades 8-12), and AP French (11th grade). She is currently a moderator of the online twitter chat for language teachers, #langchat. She’s been married to her husband for four and half years, though they met when they were both five years old.

Picture of Benedict Fils-Aime with cactus

Bénédict Fils-Aimé

Bonjour! 안녕하세요! My name is Bénédict Fils-Aimé, 만나서 반갑습니다. I currently live and teach English in South Korea. I graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s to teach French, but it seems that I’ve focused on English instead by traveling to France, Japan and Korea to live and teach. I love communities where linguistic and cultural exchanges are constantly happening. I hope to learn a lot from MAFLT as Spring 2022 will be my first semester. It’s nice to meet everyone here.

Shyann Gilkey

Shyann Gilkey is a Spanish Teacher from Lansing Michigan, currently residing in Atlanta Georgia. She is an Alumna of Michigan State University, where she earned her B.A. in Spanish, and a minor in TESOL. She first volunteered to teach in Peru, before deciding to become a High School Teacher in Atlanta, where she has taught the past 8 years. She currently teaches Spanish II, III, and IV, but has taught all levels, including AP. Shyann is most excited to explore the relationship between socio-economic factors and SLA. Outside of education, Shyann loves to sing, write music, and travel.

Kelsey Hasso

Kelsey lives in Lansing, Michigan. She has two beautiful children and teaches Spanish, levels 1 through 4 at Alma High School. She has been enrolled in the MAFLT program for quite some time, and will be the first to tell you how challenging the program is as a mother with a full time job. Kelsey’s goal this year is meeting and connecting with some new people from the MAFLT community!

Teryn Henderson

Teryn is a high school Spanish teacher in Holt, Michigan and is in her third year of teaching through continuous learning. Teryn is in her second course in the MAFLT program and is excited to continue her education! Teryn is also certified to teach English to speakers of other languages and overall has a passion for languages and language-learning. Teryn completed her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and is thrilled to be a Spartan again. Teryn is also one of the cheerleading coaches at her school and cheered for the all-girl team at Michigan State University during her undergrad.

Jenna LaVecchia

Jenna grew up in New Jersey and got her bachelor’s in Spanish and Secondary Education from Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, where she was able to travel abroad to Spain. She lives in Milford, Connecticut and loves to travel. She traveled all Spain last summer! She’s in her 5th year of teaching Spanish in an urban pre-k-8 school. She’s taught Kindergarten and grades 3-5, but grades 6-8 are by far her favorite, and what she’s currently teaching. She not only loves teaching the language, but also teaching music and culture!

Laura Lopez - Headshot

Laura Lopez

Laura is a current Spanish language tutor who formerly taught Spanish in the classroom to PK3 through 8th grade students in WI and IL. She attended Dartmouth College for her undergrad where she majored in Linguistics and minored in Hispanic Literature. She has studied in Mexico, has worked in the Dominican Republic, and has conducted research on the preservation of endangered languages. She is currently working as a graduate assistant for MSU’s National LCTL Resource Center. She is grateful to be a part of the MAFLT community (since Spring 2021) and to continue to grow as a language teacher.

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Mitchell Matthews

Mitch began the MAFLT program as a first year Spanish teacher. He started his teaching career in 2017 as a music teacher after studying opera and music education but a lifetime love of languages and travel led him to a major career change. Mitch has been studying Spanish for nearly 7 years and has enjoyed visiting several countries in Latin America. He now teaches Spanish 1 and 2 at a large suburban high school in Pennsylvania. Outside of the classroom Mitch enjoys traveling, singing, cooking, and spending time with his wife, Zanna, and Yorkie puppy, Jovi.

Kristin Mose

Kristin began the MAFLT in 2021. Since 2008, she has been teaching at her alma mater, a private high school in central WI. Kristin teaches Spanish 1, German 1,2,3, and 4 and also runs the international student program. She is the varsity head coach of the cheer and stunt team. In her free time, she teaches aerial yoga and also owns a small business and an etsy shop. She and her husband Matt also have a small hobby farm with focus on maple syrup, pumpkins and lavender.

Mike Nunley

Mike Nunley graduated from Ball State University in 2017 and is currently teaching in Decatur, Georgia, right outside of Atlanta. He is currently in his fourth year of teaching Spanish 1 and second year of teaching Spanish 4. His passion for language developed when he realized how it can make positive connections with so many people. When he is not teaching, he enjoys cooking, cycling, and watching TV and movies with his girlfriend and two cats.

Drew Peterson

Drew is originally from Franklin, Tennessee in US, but has been living with his wife and two cats in Lima, Peru since 2016. He teaches ESL at the primary and secondary level in Lima, and Peruvian Spanish online. He is especially interested in using comprehensible input methods in the classroom and furthering his knowledge in second language acquisition. When he isn’t teaching, he loves to travel with his wife, learn German, practice jiu jitsu, and try many of the great restaurants in Lima.

Megan Peterson Hinesley

Megan was born and raised in Northern California where she has also been working as a high school Spanish teacher for the past five years. She graduated from the University of California, Davis with degrees in English and Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Having taught at both the middle and high school levels, she’s excited to jump into MAFLT and continue to grow teaching second languages to her students. In her spare time, she coaches volleyball and loves to spend time with family and friends.

Shanna Robinson

Shanna is a twenty-year educator who currently resides in China. She is a graduate of Hampton University (1999); Fayetteville State University’s Teacher Certification Program (2004), and a very recent Master of Arts in Teaching and Curriculum from Michigan State University (May 2021). She would eventually like to pursue a Ph.D. in either Social Studies Education with an international focus or International Comparative Education. She began the MAFLT program in summer of 2021 with a focus in teaching English to Bilingual Learners. She enjoys traveling, has been to all six inhabitable continents, and is planning a trip to Antarctica.

Portrait of Haley Rooney

Haley Rooney

Haley is a Spanish and English as an Additional Language (EAL) teacher in Williamston Community Schools in Michigan, USA. She has been teaching in Williamston since 2018. Haley has degrees in Spanish and Elementary Education from Michigan State University. She currently lives in Williamston with her two cats, Beans and Petunia, and spends her free time reading, working in her gardens, and listening to music.

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Rebekah Sandefer

Rebekah got her teaching degree at Calvin University in Michigan and taught high school French in New York and New Jersey. After several years at home with her children, she came back to the classroom (on Cape Cod) in 2021. Language teaching had evolved so much in her absence with a focus on proficiency and comprehensible input! She joins the MATFL community eager to put new skills into practice.

Amy Scott

Amy is a high school Spanish teacher in Hartland, Michigan. She earned her bachelors in Spanish from MSU in 2007, with minors in history and math and a focus in Secondary Education. After taking a few years off from teaching to be home with her three young kids, Amy is very excited to be back in the classroom and pursing a Masters in Teaching Languages! In her spare time, Amy enjoys spending time with her family, exercising and reading.

Kari Seymour

Kari is a middle school Spanish teacher in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In 2018, she graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in Spanish Education. During her time at Ohio Wesleyan, Kari traveled to Salamanca, Spain where she completed her study abroad experience at la Universidad de Salamanca where she loved to explore the city, especially the croissant shop. Kari looks forward to developing as an educator and connecting with other language teachers through the MAFLT Program. In her free time, Kari enjoys spending time with her family and dog, cooking, and getting outside.

Portrait of Myriam Stanwood

Myriam Stanwood

Myriam is originally from Lima, Perú. She has lived in the U.S. for 18 years but currently lives in Japan with her family. Her journey in teaching Spanish started with P.A. students at Methodist University in North Carolina. Since that experience, she taught and continues to teach online language learning courses for DOD (Depart of Defense) and DOS personnel. She is a fan of online education and takes pleasure in sharing her culture with students. This has become her passion through the years.  She is always fascinated by how we can overcome obstacles to communicate. In her free time, she enjoys walking on the beach and practicing yoga.

Meghan Turske

Meghan is currently going into her second year of teaching, and will be teaching German grades 6-9. She went to Michigan State University for her undergrad, where she studied German and TESOL. She is looking forward to seeing how her teaching will improve from what she learns over the course of the program.

Melanie Vander Ploeg

Melanie is a Second Grade Spanish Immersion Teacher in West Michigan. During her undergraduate years, she completed two semesters abroad: first, in Arequipa, Peru, where she absolutely loved the community and the Andes Mountains; and later, in Oviedo Spain, where she enjoyed volunteering in a second grade classroom. In her free time, Melanie enjoys running and windsurfing. She also likes to cook with her husband, Robert, who is the better cook. Melanie kicked off 2021 by starting her first semester in the MAFLT program at MSU!

Frank VanPelt

Frank lives in Grand Rapids Michigan. His first semester in the MAFLT Program was the Summer 2020 Methods course. He studied in Spain, Mexico, and Chile and loves to travel. He taught as an adjunct professor at Grand Valley State University (his alma mater) and occasionally substitute teaches K-12. He is currently working full-time at an industrial bakery he refers to as the “United Nations of Bread Baking” while working on his graduate degree. His goal is to acquire the MAFLT degree and teach during the autumn of his life. Frank also enjoys gardening, camping, and participating in musical theater.

Kristi Waite

Kristi is a French teacher at a high school in Vermont. She grew up in Vermont, attended high school in New York, and went to college in Arkansas. After graduating from Harding University in 2008, she worked as an English language assistant at Lycée St. Just in Lyon, France. In 2009, she returned to her home state of Vermont and began a career sharing her passion for French language and culture with American students. She has taught French at several secondary schools around the state and has been at Bellows Free Academy since 2013. She enjoys listening to Québécois music and traveling to Montreal and Québec City.

Letitia Wang-Moore

Originally from Taiwan, Letitia currently lives in Virginia. She taught English to native Chinese speakers and Chinese to visitors to Taiwan while she was living there. She also worked at a language learning materials publishing and franchising company. The experience of working there made Letitia become even more interested in language teaching and learning. She has taught English and Chinese to learners of all ages for 20 years, and is currently a Mandarin instructor for Johns Hopkins University and a freelance translator. She enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.

Makiko Yamamoto Border

Born and raised in Japan, Makiko moved to the U.S. as an adult. She went back to school wanting to contribute to her children’s education. While homeschooling, she majored in linguistics at UNC, where she found her passion of becoming a Japanese teacher. Having acquired English as an adult, Makiko understands how learning another language can profoundly enrich one’s life experiences. She wants to help others experience the joy of seeing a new world through language, and is excited to start the MAFLT program in Spring 2021. She believes the program will equip her with the skills and qualities to realize her dream.

Linda Yang

Yue is an artistic and creative person that enjoys her free time going to the gym, reading, crafting, and gaming. She was born in Wuhan, China, and immigrated to the States in the early 2000s. Yue is a fluent speaker of both English and Mandarin Chinese, which is also her goal in language teaching in the future. She is currently stationed in Los Angeles, making a path for herself in the Artist Alley industry.

Not Yet Pictured

If you are a Current Student and you would like to be pictured here, go to the MAFLT Community in D2L to submit your headshot and bio. If you would like to edit or update your bio or headshot, please send them to maflt@cal.msu.edu. You can get help from Dr. Lanier’s Virtual Assistant