Skip to main content

Have Endicott Degree, Will Travel

Carissa Szabo ’24
At Endicott, education major Carissa Szabo ’24 flourished as a future teacher—and a traveler. After pursuing several international experiences at the Nest, she’s now off to Turkey to launch her classroom career.
By: Therese Sison

As we countdown to Commencement, we’re spotlighting Endicott’s outstanding 2024 graduates. Learn more about Percy Sibanda ’24, Tiago Frazao ’24, Celia Mastromattei ’24, Madison Durfee ’24, Noah Macallister ’24, and Bryan Mallett ’24

In her poem “The Summer Day,” Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver asks the reader, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Carissa Szabo ’24 first encountered this quote during the Nature Writing (ENG 336) course at Endicott.

It resonated. Deeply.

“This is the one life I get to live,” said Szabo, who’s about to graduate with a B.S. in education with a concentration in elementary education. “I want to work, but I also want to live. I want to travel, learn about other cultures, and see other landscapes.”

You could say Szabo’s wanderlust began during her earliest years growing up in Cambridge, Vt., and in North Hero, close to the U.S.-Canadian border.

During the winter, her family lived in a 200-year-old farmhouse; come summer, they relocated to a cottage first owned by her great-grandparents on North Hero Island on Vermont’s Lake Champlain. Szabo first traveled overseas in elementary school on a family trip to Ireland. Her next international trip, to Indonesia, took place as a high school senior.

But a love of travel isn’t the only passion Szabo developed during her childhood. Those formative years revealed another source of joy: education. Her first students were her stuffed animals, which she’d pretend to teach.

“My parents are educators,” said Szabo. “They taught me if it’s done right, learning is fun. It’s an intrinsically rewarding feeling to know that I helped someone understand something. I love the fact that I’m helping teach the next generation of adults.”

The combination of a strong education program with robust study abroad opportunities was the magnet that drew Szabo to Endicott.

“The education program here is incredible,” she said. “I feel very prepared to be a teacher. The professors do a great job of making sure you get lots of field experience. Every semester, and even in between semesters, I’ve been in a classroom setting. Endicott’s courses are great, how they’re taught is great, and how they are applied is wonderful.”

Szabo continued: “I always knew I wanted to study abroad. It was like I had a seed planted for my love of international travel. Endicott helped that blossom.”

First up in Szabo’s travels was a semester-long study abroad trip to Italy, where she studied at Florence University of the Arts.

“I didn’t know anyone when I left for the trip, but I ended up meeting some of my closest friends while I was there,” said Szabo. “I got to travel across Europe and learned so much about the world. I cried when I came back. I immediately knew I needed to experience the world outside the United States again.”

That chance came when she learned about an Endicott-sponsored, two-week trip to Kenya during her senior year.

“The trip was two of the best weeks of my entire life, and also among the hardest weeks of my life,” said Szabo. “I learned so much about myself and my misconceptions. I saw that I have so many opportunities here that other people around the world don’t necessarily get. I still think about Kenya nearly every day.”

She added: “We visited several primary schools there. When I returned to the U.S., I saw that so many good supplies were thrown away that those schools in Kenya could use. I gathered a few packages of discarded materials and sent them to one of the schools there. Endicott paid 50 percent of the shipping costs, which was incredibly kind. It was another opportunity to support education, which is my passion.”

When she’s home on the Endicott campus, you often can find Szabo in the education program’s suite, which she calls “her home away from home.”

“Every single professor here knows you not just by your name, but by your character,” Szabo said. “I feel heard in my classes and seen as a person. I know all of my peers in my education major in my graduating class. This is the reason I picked a small school. I don’t think I would have gotten this somewhere else.”

Post-graduation, Szabo is heading to Turkey, where she will be launching her education career as a teacher at an international elementary school. To prepare for her life in a new country, she has begun learning Turkish with the help of language apps; this summer, she plans to enroll in a Turkish language course.

“When I came back from Kenya, I had my heart set on international education,” Szabo said. “In addition to Turkey, I had opportunities to teach in Korea, Japan, China, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia. Turkey is the perfect sweet spot for me. It’s in the Middle East, but also very close to Africa and Europe. I’m very excited.”

In the meantime, Szabo has also been busy writing her thesis, “Solutions Towards Creating A Just Public School System: A Call For An Adjustment To Support Marginalized Students,” which explores systemic problems in how Massachusetts delivers educational resources to marginalized students, as well as potential solutions.

Szabo’s zeal for exploring and supporting other cultures has not gone unnoticed. She recently was nominated by Julie Calzini, Dean of the School of Education, and Warren Jaferian, Dean of International Education, to be recognized as an Endicott Cultural Ambassador—what Szabo describes as “an incredible honor.”

“I want to be a lifelong learner,” said Szabo. “That’s one of the reasons I love education. And it’s also why study abroad has been such an important part of my Endicott experience. It’s how I’ve learned what the wider world is like—and who I am.”