Drexel Grad's Expertise Attracts Media Attention
While waiting for her thesis to be approved, Teru Clavel found herself with something most online students rarely possess: a little time on her hands.
The now graduate of Drexel’s online MS in Global and International Education program used her newfound time wisely by exercising her expertise; she soon found her name in print and on the small screen.
“The media stuff started when I was waiting for my thesis approval and I was used to working very very hard as a student. And all of a sudden, I was twiddling my thumbs. I started writing articles and submitting them to local publications,” explains Clavel. “I was in the habit of non-stop researching and writing about topics of education that piqued my curiosity, so I thought I would try my hand at getting paid for it.”
The tenacity paid off. She was published in The Japan Times, and the newspaper went on to offer her a regular education column. Soon, she was pitching and authoring a 3-part series exploring English language education.
The snowball kept rolling as Clavel’s column attracted the attention of CNBC and CBS—the latter of which ran a clip where the Drexel student explained the commonality and cultural importance of elementary-aged school children in Japan making the daily commute by their lonesome.
“When CBS calls, you immediately take a big gulp, but you’re like ‘of course!’” she says. “I felt very, very lucky that this all happened. That’s when I felt like my career found me as opposed to me going after it.”
But behind the seemingly sudden media attention, Clavel burned on an insatiable passion for educational change.
For Clavel, a Japanese-American, it began with a childhood of travel. With most of her family living in Japan, she was accustomed to intercontinental voyages at a young age, and developed a deep connection with Japanese culture.
With the ability to see things from a global perspective, Clavel began to notice differences between Japanese education and the one she was receiving in New York City.
“Even though I was getting an amazing education at some of the best prep schools in the country, I was always fascinated by the fact that I didn’t feel like the classroom education prepared us for the real world. There was a big disconnect,” she said.
After graduating Dartmouth College and meeting her husband, Clavel spent some time in the design world—even hosting a TV show on HGTV in the early 2000’s—before moving to Hong Kong, and eventually, Shanghai. After watching her own children experience foreign school systems and doing some college-consulting work for international students, Clavel’s appetite for exploring the intricacies of global education only intensified.
For school children in Shanghai, the day is long—at age 2, children attend school from 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m. This left Clavel with time to chase her passion while her children were out of the house. While researching, she came across Drexel’s online programs and was immediately sold.
“When I looked at the GIE (Global and International Education) program, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there isn’t a course I don’t want to take,’” she said.
About halfway through the program, Clavel and family made the move to Tokyo, providing another lens through which to examine pedagogy. The variances proved an incomparable learning tool.
“For me personally, what I absolutely loved about the program was that I started in China and during the program, we moved to Tokyo. Not only could I carry it with me, but all of my professors will tell you that every single one of my papers was grounded in my surroundings.”
Her thesis, which focused on how Japanese parents prepare their children for globalization, explored the intersection of parenting, education and multilingualism.
Evidence of the continually global world she was researching could be found right within her cohort of classmates.
From a new mother based in Guatemala to a classmate working on an American Indian reservation in the U.S., Clavel heard stories and experiences from her comrades and professors around the world—such a diversity of perspective only possible in an online classroom.
“In terms of online learning, it’s been criticized for not having that interaction. I have to say, if you put the energy into cultivating those relationships with your professors and fellow classmates, you can walk away with really strong connections,” she said. “I can tell you just in the last week, I’ve been interacting with two of my professors from Drexel, and I graduated years ago.”
For Clavel, who graduated in 2014 and now sets her sights on obtaining her doctorate of education online at Johns Hopkins, appearing on TV is nice, but she also hopes that the expertise she gained in her program will manifest itself in her own three children.
“Personally, I grew more confident in how I was raising my own multilingual and multicultural global citizens. Ultimately, I hope to use my learning to improve educational outcomes for all children.”