When Megan Mavity '14 arrives at work every morning, she never knows what language she might hear. That's because she works at International House, "the place where Charlotte welcomes the world." Serving as their director of education has melded her academic coursework in Hispanic studies and educational studies with her extracurricular experiences in education.
In her current role, Mavity directs seven programs within International House's education department. Her primary responsibilities include coordinating adult ESL classes, one-on-one English tutoring programs, a summer program for ESL children, community opportunities and language conversation hours.
"At International House, our mission is to build intercultural understanding and help introduce immigrants and refugees to Charlotte," said Mavity.
The organization accomplishes its mission through a wide range of support services, including an immigration legal clinic, cultural programs, an international visitors program and an education department. Roughly 60 percent of their clients are from Latin America, with the remainder hailing mainly from Africa and Eastern Europe.
"On one hand, working with refugees is very challenging because there are so many needs, and basically what I can offer them are educational classes and references for additional support," explained Mavity. "On the other hand, it's very exciting when people achieve their language goals and are able to help their children with homework and confidently ask people for directions on the street. Those are the moments that are really incredible."
Mavity was introduced to International House during the summer before her senior year at Davidson, when she interned there as an Education Scholar. She helped with administrative work for a summer program, tutored elementary ESL students and researched third grade literacy rates at the Belk Foundation. Mavity said, "Education Scholars was most fundamental in shaping me."
That summer was the defining moment when she found that all of her interests involved working with children and language, and wanting to increase literacy in Charlotte. Up to that point she had been a teacher's assistant at the Community Schools High School for freshmen who were learning Spanish, tutored local children learning Spanish, tutored for Davidson FLES at Davidson Elementary, and worked as an assistant (AT) for the college's Hispanic Studies department.
"Having spent so much time tutoring children, working as an AT on the other end of the spectrum was interesting. You'd be surprised how many activities translate from kindergartners to college students," said Mavity.
After she finished her summer commitment at International House, she didn't want to leave – instead, she arranged to continue to come in one or two afternoons per week. "I did pretty much anything that needed to be done," she said.
When her supervisor left in January, the executive director asked if she could work part time unpaid to keep the department afloat until she was able to join the staff as a full-time employee. That meant finishing her thesis, student teaching and working part time during her last semester at Davidson. "But it made it really exciting when I was able to start full time," she said. "I'm grateful that they took a chance on me."
Before participating in the Education Scholars program, Mavity had planned to become a Spanish teacher, with the goal of obtaining her teaching license in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from UNC Charlotte – an aspiration that hasn't faded.
"Sometimes I feel like I'm going at this in reverse," she said. "I'm the Director of Education before teaching in the classroom. In my current role, I support teachers by coordinating classes and other opportunities so that teachers and students can really thrive."
Mavity has chosen to work in the education field because she sees the chance to give people the skills to advocate for themselves and achieve empowerment. Learning to multitask, understand educational theories and improve her language skills in Davidson courses and through the Education Scholars program has prepared her to find her place in the field.
She said, "I'm grateful that Davidson showed me that there are other ways to be involved in the field without having to be a classroom teacher. Davidson opened up my perspective on ways that I could make an impact."