Rebecca Gailey | Program Officer with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and Founder of The Ota Initiative

Originally from Maryland, Rebecca received degrees in journalism and international studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She spent six months studying and volunteering in Kenya during her junior year and then later returned to East Africa as a Boren Scholar studying Swahili in Tanzania. She spent four months of her Boren experience conducting research with a local Amizade partner in Kayanga, which put her in contact with many teachers, parents, and students who were frustrated with the lack of educational resources and opportunities available to students in rural schools. Inspired by U.S. summer camps and numerous studies that have shown that year-round learning helps to lessen the performance gap between low- and high-income students, Rebecca worked with Amizade and a local teacher to create The Ota Initiative, a project that trains high school and college students to run arts-and-science-based educational programs for elementary students during school breaks. Local staff now run the program with Rebecca providing support as a volunteer from Washington, D.C. She currently works as a Program Officer with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, where she oversees professional development workshops for study abroad advisors and alumni of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and Critical Language Scholarship Program.