Student from Simpson University's South Korea Cohort Graduates in Redding
For Immediate Release
REDDING, Calif. – It only seemed fitting that Natalie Litvak should fly cross-country to walk across the stage at Simpson University's spring commencement.
After all, Simpson University went halfway around the world to provide the 36-year-old Pittsburgh resident with a Master of Arts in education program while she taught in South Korea.
Litvak is one of nine students graduating this spring from the university's extension campus in Suwon, South Korea. Having moved back to Pittsburgh in April, Litvak could choose to attend a June 12 graduation ceremony in Suwon or an April 30 ceremony at Simpson's Redding campus.
"She returned to the U.S. well before her cohort classmates finished their school year, yet felt such a strong bond to Simpson University and didn't want to miss out on participating in a graduation ceremony," said Dr. Richard Harris, associate dean of Simpson's School of Education. "We were thrilled that she came to Redding."
Simpson University launched an international cohort in fall 2008, becoming the only Western university to offer an on-site Master of Arts in Education program in South Korea. Six School of Education professors take turns traveling overseas to teach, using classrooms at the Gyeonggi Suwon International School. Many of their students are teachers from the K-12 international school.
Litvak, who taught in a Korean national school, offered a unique perspective, Dr. Harris said.
"She was an incredible resource for her fellow students as we learned much about the educational opportunities for the majority of Korean children," he said.
After two years with the Peace Corps in West Africa, Litvak moved to Korea in 2006 for a job teaching English to kindergarten and elementary students. She wasn't expecting to fall in love with teaching.
"What started off as being something I did to earn more money turned out to be something I really enjoyed doing," she said.
She transferred to a full-time job teaching English to middle-school students in Seoul. There, she learned about Simpson's M.A. in Education program from a friend.
"There are not a lot of educational opportunities available to people overseas except online programs, so I think it's wonderful that Simpson offers this," Litvak said.
She emailed Dr. Harris to learn more and was surprised to get a quick response saying he was in Seoul at the time.
"It was a bit serendipitous," she said.
They met to discuss the program, and Litvak enrolled. Since a two-year cohort had just begun, Harris agreed to teach her the first course so she could join up with the group soon after.
"The classes were valuable, but the best thing was the professors," said Litvak, who is pursuing job opportunities in curriculum development. "They made huge commitments to travel back and forth. They made it worthwhile for us and allowed us to grow personally and professionally."
Since Simpson University's Korea program began nearly three years ago, 17 students from two cohorts have completed the program. A third cohort (of 14 students) began in August 2010 and those students will graduate in June 2012. A fourth cohort will begin this August and plans to launch a fifth cohort in August 2012 are developing.
Simpson University is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate and teaching credential programs. Simpson's academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults in the north state. Simpson's recent curriculum expansion includes degrees in biology, nursing, outdoor leadership, and a master's degree in counseling psychology. For more information about the university, or to arrange a personalized visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit simpsonu.edu.
Contact: SU Public Relations