When Trachanda Garcia ’02 arrived at Milton Hershey School in 1998, she had an interest in politics, world events, and global affairs.
“I knew I wanted to do something internationally, but I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to live abroad or in the U.S.,” she said. “But I’ve always known I wanted to work in education.”
Thanks to MHS, Trachanda reinforced her love for international studies by living abroad in Panama during her junior year—the first of many trips around the world.
“I lived with a host family and they were in the mountains,” Trachanda said. “Through it all, I learned how to be extremely independent and adventurous. I would never take back my experience for anything.”
When she graduated in 2002, Trachanda enrolled at Lock Haven University where she officially became an international studies major with a minor in Spanish. She studied abroad in Spain, backpacked around Europe, and after graduation, completed a 2009 Rotary Group study exchange in Daejeon, South Korea before traveling to Beijing and Shanghai in 2013.
Trachanda joined the admissions office at Lock Haven University and began recruiting international students. She now works as the Director of Global Education at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA.
“I like meeting international students and finding out who they are and what their life is like,” she said. “I like to find out why they came here and what their goals are, so I can help them get to that next step.”
Whether she’s partnering with other colleges to create new study abroad opportunities, hosting international events, or managing 18 on-campus programs designed specifically for international students, Trachanda says one of her favorite parts of her job is seeing how excited students get when they realize their lives are now full of possibilities.
“For some international students, getting an education is the difference between social classes. They might be the first person in their family or community to get a college degree in the U.S.,” she explained. “[An education] gives them the potential to help their country in ways they never could have done before. These students have an extreme amount of passion and vision, and it means so much to work with them.”
How does Trachanda manage all of her daily responsibilities, especially when she’s building so many valuable relationships with students? She says it’s the discipline she learned at MHS that continues to guide her today.
“MHS gave me the skills I need to be disciplined,” said Trachanda. “In my current job where I’m constantly multi-tasking, having discipline really helps. I know how to prioritize and focus on what’s important.”
When asked to describe her time at MHS, she can’t help but recognize the friendships she gained that taught her the true meaning of building relationships both in and out of the office.
“The friends I made at MHS are still my closest friends today,” she said. “They’re some of my best friends—they’ve made a difference in my life.”