Content Block Preview: Speaker Bios: (Hall B) Study Abroad and International Academic Exchange

Speaker Bios:


Amelia VanderLaan, Outreach Officer, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Amelia VanderLaan is a Foreign Service Officer currently serving as the USA Study Abroad Outreach Officer in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Department of State’s U.S. Study Abroad office — or USA Study Abroad — seeks to increase the number of American students studying abroad and to reach parts of American society that are currently underrepresented in study abroad programs. USA Study Abroad seeks to have more young people travel — safely — to destinations where fewer Americans have studied, and to learn critical languages and cultures. USA Study Abroad does this by directly supporting more than 3,500 Americans on overseas programs every year through the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program. Prior to supporting these USA Study Abroad initiatives, Amelia served as the Assistant Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus, managing exchange and cultural programs along with outreach initiatives. From 2015-17 she served in Canada heading the Investment Visa section of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. Prior to the Foreign Service, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach in Sinop, Turkey, for one year. She also advised students on pursuing international opportunities when she worked as a fellowships adviser at Smith College, and served as a Teaching Fellow at Athens College. Amelia graduated from Smith College with a B.A. in Government. She received her M.A. in Southeast European Studies from the University of Athens. She speaks Greek, Turkish, and Spanish.


Jada Tanner, Intern, George Washington University, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Jada Tanner is a junior at the George Washington University where she is pursuing a degree in international affairs. She is a Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) alumna and, in 2019, studied Korean in Gwangju, South Korea, with her CLS cohort for two months. CLS taught Jada what it meant to represent your country abroad as a citizen ambassador and strengthened her love for the Korean language. As an African American woman in Korea, Jada had a unique experience that helped her learn how to navigate being a racial minority abroad and how to handle tough conversations about cultural differences and race with non-Americans. Jada has used her Korean knowledge to form George Washington University’s first Korean Conversation Club that focuses on student-to-student Korean lessons for beginners. She is currently an intern at the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and, upon completion of her undergraduate studies, she intends to apply to graduate school to further her knowledge of Korea and the Korean language. 


Markal Kelly, Intern, Morehouse College, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs

Markal Kelly is an undergraduate International Relations major at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He did a gap year in Bulgaria through Youth Exchange and Study Abroad prior to starting his undergraduate degree, and is a newly selected Gilman Scholar. He currently serves as the Study Abroad Ambassador at Morehouse. His duties include promoting the benefits of studying abroad to his classmates. He manages their program’s website highlighting the recipients of awards and fellowships and dispensing information regarding upcoming scholarships. He plans to master Portuguese and pursue a career in public service. He is currently an intern for USA Study Abroad at the Department of State.