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Ireland +353 (0)45 939 773

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Meet the Team

Cara Simon, MA, MSW – Director of Institutional Relations and Student Services

bitmoji-1592418086cara-greystoneCara is originally from upstate New York, where there are lots of trees and no sky-scrapers. She earned a BA from SUNY Geneseo and then pursued her MSW from Stony Brook University, followed by a stint in the South Pacific. After working as a Wilderness Therapist and Clinical Social Worker, she decided to switch careers into International Education. Cara completed a MA in Higher Education Administration, with concentrations in International Education, Student Services, and Disability Student Development from the University of Arizona. Cara‘s background within IE encompasses working with inbound and outbound programs for study abroad, exchange and ESL at various US institutions.

Cara partnered with Learn International in 2014 as Director of Institutional Relations and Student Services and loves her work. She is currently working on her Professional Certification in International Education from Forum on Education Abroad; an enriching experience, despite training herself to do homework again!

She adores the field of IE and the impact it has on student growth, success and development; there is not a day she regrets changing her career path to pursue her passion.
Cara lives for travel and exploring new places, cultures, people, which has guided her to live and work in Australia, Honduras and Costa Rica prior to the Republic of Ireland. She loves anything outdoors, a good book, and that she can access Netflix from almost anywhere in the world.


Chris Lawlor, MSc, MsC – Director of Institutional Relations and Program Development



Chris embraces education in all its forms. He is either building international education programs for Learn International’s partners or enrolling in post grad programs to ‘keep the brain healthy and alive!’. After completing his undergrad with a double major in Archaeology and Geography, he completed a M.Sc. in Sustainable Development which included a multi-country European study abroad trip. From that point on, the wanderlust was instilled in Chris and he went on to live and work in international education in New Zealand, Australia, France, USA before returning to Ireland to work with Dublin City University. He undertook a second M.Sc. in Business & Entrepreneurship before starting Learn International in 2013.

Despite the considerable amount of work travel that he does, Chris remains an avid adventurer and jumps at any chance to visit and explore new countries and destinations. He is currently working towards his third Marathon and failing miserably at mastering kite-boarding.


Katie Kelly, BA – Education Abroad Coordinator

katiepic4katiepic2Katie graduated with her BA (honours) from Maynooth University in Ireland in Music (concentration on Performance) and Anthropology. During her undergrad she worked as a Student Ambassador and was actively involved with the International Office on campus. Katie was a Coordinator for the Maynooth International Summer (MUISS) where she became passionate about International Education. She was introduced to the Learn International while they were managing the MUISS, and soon after became member of the Learn International team.

As an Education Abroad Coordinator with Learn International, she is involved with many aspects of program development, planning and coordinating faculty-led programs as well as student advising and marketing.  Katie loves interacting with students, helping them learn about new cultures and ​observing their cultural awareness ​grow throughout their study abroad experience. Katie never had the opportunity to to study abroad herself, so she finds great satisfaction to helping others have a study abroad experience. In her free time, Katie is also an avid musician, playing regularly in local musical events; she loves to go to music festivals, and travels whenever she has the chance.


Rossella Pisconti, MSc – Internship Abroad Coordinator

fullsizerender3Prior to her appointment with LI, in September 2014, Rossella took up a position as Student Services and Internships Co-ordinator in London for ISA – one the largest student services provider worldwide. Before that she was working as Resident Mentor and Student Coordinator for International Students at the University of Exeter (INTO), UK.

She worked also as a part-time Customer Assistant for transport disabled passengers and  Language Tutor at the Polyglot Association in Falmouth (UK).

She is a graduate in Political Science and worked as Visiting Scholar at the University of Cardiff and Exeter (UK).  Prior to that she was awarded a MA in European Politics from University of Bari (Italy) in 2006 and a MA in Communication and Ethics from the University ‘La Sapienza’ Rome (Italy) in 2008.

Rossella’s interests include social communication, philosophy of language, politics and working with homelessness charities. She has a deep passion for travelling and helping endangered animals, particularly sea turtles. In her free time, she loves going to local music shows and art galleries.  She has studied and worked in Italy, England, Wales, and Republic of Ireland.


Emmalyne Smith, MA – Education Abroad Coordinatorimg_8626img_4618

Emmalyne is originally from Iowa, a state located in the midwest of the United States. She earned a B.A. from Loras College in International Studies and Music and completed her M.A. at the Institute of Technology Tallaght Dublin.

As an undergrad she studied abroad in Ireland for a semester and became highly involved at Loras College as a Study Abroad Ambassador. After her incredible experience studying abroad, she made the decision to return to do a Masters program in Ireland. She recently completed her graduate program in Humanities through IT Tallaght in Dublin.

Emmalyne loves the outdoors and activities such as hiking, camping, cycling, kayaking and much more. Her music interests involve voice performance and playing the piano. She enjoys sharing her favorite experiences and places in Ireland to those making the voyage.  Her experience in international education has encouraged her to assist others on their journey studying abroad.

Mark Mullally, MA, MSc – Operations Coordinator, Senior

mark-mullally_530x480bitmoji1738381791Mark is originally from Greystones, Co. Wicklow, a fishing village 30kms south of Dublin. After completing his undergraduate study in University College Dublin with a double major of Archaeology and Economics he completed an MA in Archaeology. After a few years excavating sites throughout Ireland, Mark decided on a career change and hung up his trowel but archaeology remains a lifelong passion. A career in sales and marketing followed upon completing an MSc in Marketing from the Dublin Institute of Technology.

Education and the life-long pursuit of knowledge is key to Mark and this led to the EFL classroom. Mark has taught in some of the most respected language schools in Dublin. This opened the door to travel which Mark grabbed with both hands. Germany and a small town east of Frankfurt called Gelnhausen became home for 5 years. There Mark opened his own language school, learnt German from scratch and had a completely authentic German cultural experience. This authentic experience is something Mark ensures exists within every programme he delivers with Learn International. Before joining Learn International Mark returned to Ireland working with Emerald Cultural Institute in Dublin as Junior Programme Manager.

In his spare time Mark is a committed swimmer, loves walking in the beautiful Irish landscape and remains in pursuit of the perfect round of golf!

Jessica Byrne, BA – Customized Programs Assistant

Jessica’s introduction to International Education came when she started working as an international student mentor in 2010 while studying for her BA in Music & History. She loved the experience and knew that she wanted to make a career in International Education after she graduated. Since then she has worked in both Irish and US universities, study abroad providers, and with international students from across the world.

Having missed out on the chance to study abroad during her degree, Jessica moved to Berlin after graduating where she worked for 18 months, exploring the country on weekends and learning the language. Earlier this year she moved to Reykjavik, Iceland in search of another adventure and colder climate!

Jessica loves to travel and is grateful to have a career which has allowed her to visit countless countries over the years and meet many new people. She is glad she has been able to take her career with her across countries and hopes to welcome many students to Iceland in future!

Bernadette Silva, BA – Marketing Coordinator


Bernadette assists with graphics and visual communication materials for Learn International. She is the marketing guru. She has a Bachelor of Individualized Studies with specializations in English, History, Digital Filmmaking and Animation/Visual Effects from New Mexico State University.

She has also studied at Maynooth University in Ireland and the University of Kent in England and served as a Congressional Page at the U.S. House of Representatives with the 111th Congress. Bernadette also works with Lipstick Angels, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing comfort and dignity to hospital patients.

Deirdre O’Keeffe, BA – Accounts Coordinator

Deirdre O'Keeffee29750124_10155602882973348_6277190614033621373_oDeirdre is native to Ireland but has lived and worked abroad in the United Kingdom. She joined Learn International in 2014 and loves to stay busy. She adores working in international education sector, as it’s so different from her previous accounting roles. The exposure she has had to people from around the world, not to mention all the currency conversions, there is never a dull moment. She loves numbers…or maybe that’s a lie…more like numbers love her.

Deirdre is a mother to three little ones with her wonderful husband, so she is a master multi-tasker. When she has free time, and is not chasing her 3 kiddos around, she has a secret passion for interior design and admiring a good piece of art. Plus a great cup of coffee makes her happy.


Kristian Chervenock, PhD – USA Relationships Coordinator

image1 image-1Kristian is originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, however he has spent most of his life living and working in the US. He completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in International Relations and a post graduate and Master’s degree from Western Washington University (TESOL/TEFL Certification and an M.Ed in Education Administration).

Like so many others in the field of international education, Kristian’s pathway was born organically; spawned from his love for international travel and adventure. He was fortunate to be introduced to travel at a very young age, primarily thanks to his Danish mother who would routinely take Kristian to Denmark for holiday visits with his Viking relatives. His first solo-trip was spent backpacking around Europe immediately after graduation, and shortly after, a year-long visit to Australia where he tried his best to become a real surfer (that never really materialized however). After Australia, Kristian headed off to Japan to teach English—a career and a country that he enjoyed immensely.

After nearly twenty years spent in the dreary Northwest, Kristian (and most members of his immediate family) headed South (to New Mexico) in search of sunnier and warmer climates. It’s safe to say that the Land of Enchantment (New Mexico’s motto) is really more like the Land of Entrapment, because it would take a small army to haul Kristian out of his desert bliss. Where else in the world can you hike, camp, bicycle, swim, and sit around a campfire with a guitar and some good friends ALL YEAR ROUND?

Kristian realized that he needed to find a job to support his hobbies, so he fell back on what he was most passionate about (globetrotting). He wandered into the study abroad office at New Mexico University and ended up spending the next 13 years of his life managing a portfolio of international initiatives at NMSU from study abroad and international student and scholar services to the intensive English program and overseas partnership and business development.  He managed to squeeze another degree too; this time a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction with a dissertation focused on best practices in international student recruitment, enrollment management and retention.

You’ll never know where you’ll end up in life, so don’t pass up the opportunity to throw on that backpack, board that bus or plane, and GET OUT THERE!

Dr. Giada Laganà – Program Coordinatorbitmoji-20180612054730

Originally from Italy, Giada fell in love with Ireland and with Northern Irish history when she was seventeen. She was finally able to move to Galway five years ago and she was awarded her PhD in Political Science in January 2018. Her thesis is entitled ‘The genesis of the Europeanisation of the Northern Ireland peace process’. She started out as an historian, completing her undergraduate studies in modern and contemporary history at the University of Pavia (Italy). She then obtained an MA in International Relations and History at the University of La Rochelle (France).

Giada has always loved learning and teaching people about new cultures and observing cultural awareness grow throughout different  experiences. She invested great time and energy in introducing Northern Irish history in Italy and France and she organized a number of public event and conferences throughout Europe. During her four years in France, she also worked as a tourist guide, translator and groups coordinator in the Basque Country and in the region of Bordeaux.  In her free time, she loves swimming and … crocheting! She knits and crochet most of her own clothes.

Rosie Nelson, Graduate Intern

img_2947 img_2824Rosie is originally from Vermont, a small state in the Northeastern part of the United States which is well known for Maple Syrup, Cabot Cheddar Cheese and a gorgeous foliage season. Rosie was first introduced to the world of International Education during her own study abroad experiences in both India and Prague, Czech Republic. Having always been fascinated by people, societies and the world, Rosie completed her bachelor degree in Sociology from Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

After completing her undergraduate degree Rosie relocated to the beautiful island of Taiwan and ended up staying there for two years working as an ESL teacher. Rosie taught English to children integrating creative approaches into her teaching methods. In her holidays and time-off Rosie traveled to various countries in Asia. After living and working in Taiwan, Rosie moved back to the United States to start her Masters degree in International Education at SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. Prior to working in Ireland at Learn International Rosie lived in India, Ghana, Kenya, Taiwan, and Czech Republic. Outside of work and studies Rosie is passionate about traveling, yoga, hiking, running, listening to Ghanaian hiplife, African dance and spending time with her family and close friends. She is excited about International Education, study abroad and helping to facilitate transformative experiences for students.

Kathryn Ippolito – Intern
Email: kathryn@learninternational.iebitmoji-20180312020239fb_img_1520866985704

Kathryn is originally from Maryland. She earned a B.A. in  Film Studies and Production from University of North Carolina Wilmington. As an undergraduate student, she worked for a company producing commercials for local nonprofit organizations. She decided to pursue her dream of traveling to the U.K. by studying  interning in London. Following graduation, she began  working in London as a Student Service Coordinator for International Studies Abroad.

Kathryn loves hiking, surfing, playing the ukulele, and dancing. Due to her passion for animals, she volunteers for the Humane Society and is part of the Surfrider Foundation, an organization dedicated to cleaning beaches. In her free time she enjoys watching films, reading detective novels and visiting art galleries.

Nick McIntyre, Graduate Intern

1918127_1166622851056_2750400_nimg_2115Nick McIntyre is originally from Charlotte, North Carolina, and earned a BFA in Filmmaking – Production Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He is currently in the process of earning his Master’s Degree in International Education from the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont. His two years with AmeriCorps at the New Hampshire Department of Education’s Homeless and Migrant Education Programs created a desire to help address educational inequalities for underrepresented students.

Nick started traveling at a young age with his mom to locations in the United States and abroad, including Belgium, Spain, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the UK. These trips ignited a passion for exploring other societies and an understanding of the value of intercultural experiences for all students. In his (limited) spare time Nick is an avid reader, likes watching movies and memorizing mostly useless Oscar trivia, and loves art museums, galleries, and craft shows, particularly anything involving metalsmithing, which he dabbled in for a few years.