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Where in the World are Kent State Alumni?

Kent State’s roots may be in Ohio but the university’s graduates are making a difference across the world. Currently, more than 1,200 alumni are living and working in other countries outside the U.S. from Australia to Zimbabwe, Kent State grads are turning excellence into action.

Mark Bartholet, ’06, and Andrea Muto, ’98, are among these graduates. Here are their stories about what inspired them to work abroad and make a difference oversees.   

A “Home Away from Home”

The first time Mark Bartholet, ’06, visited El Salvador he was an undergraduate student at Kent State pursing a bachelor’s degree in integrated mathematics. He traveled to the Central American country with the Newman Center, Kent State’s campus Catholic ministry, to see the towns and villages for which the university parish helped to raise money.

Since that visit, Bartholet knew he would return to the country that had found a special place in his heart.

“There was something about the people there,” Bartholet said. “They have such generosity and a joyful spirit.”

Bartholet also participated in the Consortium of Overseas Student Teaching (COST) program as an undergrad, which gave him another opportunity to teach in Quito, Ecuador. 

“I’m really grateful for that experience,” Bartholet said. “I’ve always had a desire to travel. It’s like a home away from home.”

After graduating, Bartholet taught mathematics at Cleveland Heights High School, and returned to Kent State to work as a pastoral associate at the Newman Center.

“I always thought I was going to be a teacher, but math didn’t fit,” Bartholet says. “It was then I decided that in the future, I wanted to return to El Salvador for an extended period of time.”

Bartholet traveled to El Salvador twice during his time as a pastoral associate at the Newman Center, in 2008 and 2009.

After finishing his master’s degree in theology and religious studies from John Carroll University, Bartholet returned to El Salvador in January 2011. He attended the wedding of friend David Klacik, ’09, and stayed on a teaching visa. He lived in Agua Caliente, a town north of San Salvador in one of the country’s poorest regions.

Bartholet taught English at Colegio Padre Nicolas Antonio Rodriguez, a parochial school in the San Jose parish of El Salvador. The school, founded by Father Rafael Fuentes, is supported in part by the Newman Center.

During his time in Agua Caliente, Bartholet got to know the families and children in the town. He wrote about his experiences and the special relationships he formed in his blog, "Even The Pebbles Sparkle."

Bartholet returned to the U.S. after nearly three months of living and teaching in El Salvador. He plans to return in December to celebrate the baptism of the school principal’s daughter. He was asked to be her godfather.

It’s clear that although Bartholet left for El Salvador with the intention to teach, he returned to the U.S. with a great amount of respect and fondness for the families he met there.

“The people just want to help; the families are so patient,” Bartholet said. “I wasn’t just teaching, I was learning. It was a wonderful way to share.” 

 

Making a Difference in Kabul

Andrea Muto, M.L.S. ’98, never imagined a career in librarianship would take her to Kabul, Afghanistan, to build a law library in 2007.

Muto, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University, was a reporter for two years before studying law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. After clerking for a judge and working briefly as an associate for a small Cleveland law firm, she was looking for something else in the professional world. 


"I happened to go back to my law school library and talked with one of my former law librarians," Muto said. "She mentioned to me there was a library school at Kent State University. She asked me if I ever considered librarianship as a career, and I told her absolutely not."

After graduation, she joined the legal, news and public records information provider LexisNexis, working with a special team serving only the vendor's library and information professional customers. Later, she assumed a position with LexisNexis in Washington, D.C., working with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney's Office customers.

"I had always wanted to work in some type of international position," Muto said. "At the time, working in law didn't have to be related to law or librarianship, but I knew I wanted to work overseas."

Muto applied to a Washington, D.C., consulting company for a position in Afghanistan and left for Kabul in February 2007. The USAID-funded project focused on working with the Afghan Supreme Court and Ministry of Justice. Muto managed a staff of 28 Afghan workers to organize and codify select criminal, civil and commercial Afghanistan laws.

While in Kabul, Muto worked with an Italian law project to create a law library on the Kabul University campus. The Italian project had constructed a training center for use by the Supreme Court, Attorney General's Office and Ministry of Justice legal professionals. The building had space set aside for a library, which did not contain one book.

"The project involved working out an agreement with the Afghan ministries so that we could develop training programs and a library that supported those training programs," Muto said. "Our library was to be a full-service law library with an acquisitions plan, online catalog and a staff that was trained in reference services and bibliographic tools."

Muto is now back in Washington, D.C., and will travel mid-April to Pristina, Kosovo. She will work at the law school there, with another USAID-funded project. The new assignment is short-term and includes assisting library staff in development of an international and foreign commercial law collection.

"Perhaps you may not see librarianship in a position description, but you may be able to weave other pieces of your background into librarianship," Muto says. "It works into a position that may not appear to deal with library and information science, but you can mold it in that direction yourself."

By Sarah Lack and Nicole Gennarelli

 

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