Meet the Team

The Learn International family shares a little about themselves and they would love to hear from you.

Founders

Learn director cara simon poses for a professional headshot wearing a brown jacket.

Cara Simon

MA, MSW

Co-Founder and COO

Contact Cara for all Student Services, Student Health & Safety, Marketing and Employment queries

She adores the field of IE and the impact it has on student growth, success and development. Cara 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 and received her MA in Higher Education from the University of Arizona.

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!

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

Chris Lawlor

MSc, MsC

Co-Founder and CEO

Contact Chris for all New Partnerships and Programme Development and future customised programmes

Chris embraces education in all its forms. He is either building international education programmes for Learn International’s partners or enrolling in post grad programmes 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, and 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.

Key People

Michelle Yalch_Internships and Semester Abroad Manager

Michelle Yalch, MA

Internships and Semester Abroad Manager

Contact Michelle for internships and semester programmes in Ireland.

Michelle joined the team in April 2019.  Originally from Pennsylvania, she began her international career on a student exchange to Northern Ireland when she was 16 and hasn’t stopped travelling since.  She earned both her BA and MA from University College, Cork in Ireland, spending one year studying at the Università degli Studi di Bologna in Italy during her BA programme.

She’s been working in the field since 2009, working on study and volunteer abroad programmes at EIL Ireland in Cork, before working at The College of Global Studies at Arcadia University just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.  During her time at Arcadia, she organised study abroad programmes, focusing on internships in Ireland, the UK and Australia, as well as freshman programmes to London and Scotland.

In her free time, when travel isn’t an option she enjoys baking, reading, hiking, crocheting and spending time with her pets, not necessarily in that order.  When baking for a major event, it’s essential to practice, so trial runs tend to be shared with colleagues. This generally doesn’t lead to complaints.

Anna Zlotorzynska staff photo

Anna Zlotorzynska, BA

Accounts and Office Manager

Contact Anna for all accounts, payments and invoicing queries.

Anna is originally from Suwalki – most beautiful town in north-east Poland. Some call it Poland’s cold pole, others even say that you may encounter polar bear there.

She earned Certificate of Higher Education in Logistic in Enterprise in her home town and then decided to come to Ireland for one year only to learn the English language and gain some experience working internationally.

Anna loved the Irish people and also, the weather so she is still here after 12 years.

She holds a Diploma in Business and Accounting approved by ACCA and is IPASS Certified Payroll Specialist, she is a lifelong learner and will continue studying to gain more qualifications. Not only numbers were always Anna’s biggest passion, but the people behind them. She became a member of the Learn team in March 2019, where she is delighted to have an opportunity to bring these two things together.

Alicja Rynda - staff photo

Alicja Rynda, MA

Study abroad Coordinator

Contact Alicja for internships in the United Kingdom.

Alicja joined Learn International in 2022. Alicja studied Sociology and Human Resources, and for over 12 years worked as an international recruiter, matching multilingual professionals with suitable jobs across Europe. She continues to do so in her role with Learn International – she tirelessly sources exceptional host companies and secures exciting internships for the students on our programmes.

Alicja studied Sociology and Human Resources, and for over 12 years worked as an international recruiter, matching multilingual professionals with suitable jobs across Europe. She continues to do so in her role with Learn International – she tirelessly sources exceptional host companies and secures exciting internships for the students on our programmes.

She is the most sociable introvert you’ll ever meet. Who would guess that despite her (slightly overwhelming) talkativeness and (at times challenging) witty sense of humour, her favourite free time activity is sitting at the top of a mountain somewhere in Italy or Spain and listening to the wind … or lying on a sofa, alone (i.e. with her cats), with a bucket of Ben & Jerry’s and watching Netflix … same thing, right?

Even though she has to recharge from time to time from social interactions, people in all shapes, forms and states are her favourite thing. She loves to observe, interact, exchange and learn. Whether it’s supporting people with disabilities in their everyday challenges (when she worked as an assistant in a non-profit), helping professionals secure a life-changing job (in her past life as a recruiter), or accompanying students on their educational path and discovering their professional strengths – what gives her the biggest satisfaction is knowing that what she does has the positive influence on someone else’s here and now.

 

Jon Lowe, MA, AATQB

UK Programme Coordinator & Finance Assistant

Contact Jon for programme coordination and on-the-ground logistics in the United Kingdom.

Jon joined the team in an ‘official’ capacity in February 2023, having worked as a freelance copywriter for Learn International for several years. on’s role is multi-faceted. He oversees itinerary planning and bookings for our UK-based programmes while continuing to contribute marketing content. 

Jon’s role is multi-faceted. He oversees itinerary planning and bookings for our UK-based programmes while continuing to contribute marketing content. With a passion for life-long learning, Jon started to train in finance during the pandemic. A part-qualified AAT Lv3 Accountant and registered Bookkeeper,  Jon relishes the opportunity to assist Learn’s Senior Accounts Manager, Anna with her work.

Based in Cheshire, UK, Jon enjoys all things equestrian. He is a BHS Accredited Professional Coach and runs training events for riders across the North West.

In his free time, Jon can often be found exploring the beautiful coastline of North Wales with his trusty dogs, Neville and Tarn!

Laura Scobey, MA

Customised Programmes Manager

Contact Laura for all Faculty-led Programme development and operations needs.

Laura joined Learn International officially in May 2023 but has been connected with our company for years prior. She comes to us with a vast amount of experience in faculty led-programming and programme development. Prior to joining LI, she worked for James Madison University in Antwerp, Belgium coordinating a semester study abroad program and for George Mason University in their study abroad office. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from the University of Tennessee and Master of Arts in International Affairs from American University’s School of International Service.

Her love of travel and passion for international education began after a year abroad in Spain. After her return, she talked about her experience to anyone who would listen, encouraging them to study abroad, and hasn’t stopped since! In addition to Spain, She has also studied and spent time in Egypt, Jordan and Israel-Palestine. She loves going to new places and learning about new cultures, but Granada remains one of her favorite cities to this day.

Laura is originally from North Carolina and still calls the Southern state home. She is an avid American football fan and wears her Tennessee orange proudly, Go Vols!. She is also a dog mom to Balou, her 3.5 year pug. No pug left behind! He has visited 7 countries with her. She loves reading and doing Arts and Crafts in her free time

Nico Aquino, MA

France Programme Coordinator

Contact Nico for questions on applications and programs in France

Nico is our Learn International Programme Coordinator in Lille, France. Originally from the Philippines, he received a fully-funded graduate scholarship from the Embassy of France in the Philippines to study Master of Arts in Global and European Politics at the Catholic University of Lille. He loves travelling and immersing himself in different cultures. 

Since 2018, he has dedicated himself to mentoring and advising students who aspire to study abroad. He is deeply passionate about intercultural communication and international education. His extensive participation in global United Nations conferences and study programs has led him to experiences in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, and Europe. He actively engages in community initiatives and places a strong emphasis on youth empowerment.

During his free time, he takes pleasure in playing Nintendo Switch games, with favourites like Pokemon and Mario Kart. Beyond gaming, he is a fervent anime aficionado, collecting Funko Pop figurines of beloved characters from various shows.

Alexandra Bartley

Executive Assistant to the COO

For the past 5 years, Alex has been working as an Office/Happiness Manager in Paris supporting leaders and thriving in roles ranging from HR to Finance, Event planning or Facility management.

Having recently relocated to Ireland with her family, Alex joined Learn International in October 2023 as Cara Simon’s Executive Assistant and support admin for the Internship team.

In her free time, you’ll find her exploring the beauty of Ireland, going for hikes and seeking solace in the refreshing waters of our waterfalls and seas. Living by the yogic mindset, Alex is on the path to becoming a certified yoga teacher, fostering a holistic approach to life.

Laura Vaughan

Executive Assistant to The CEO

Laura joined Learn International in 2023. She is a seasoned professional with 15 years of experience in the financial services industry and currently serves as the Executive Assistant to Chris Lawlor, where her role extends beyond administrative duties to encompass operations support.

Beyond the corporate world, she finds passion and purpose in various endeavours. Fitness is a central part of her life, as she teaches invigorating fitness classes during her spare time. Her dedication extends to mentoring an under-11 GAA girls’ team, fostering teamwork and leadership skills on and off the field.

As a member of a running club, she has had the pleasure of guiding numerous individuals through their fitness journey, leading various Couch to 5k groups. Empowering others to achieve their health and wellness goals brings her immense joy.

Off the track, you’ll often find her immersed in the pages of a good book, accompanied by her ever-loyal cat Mojo. She strongly believes in the power of encouragement and motivation, whether in the workplace, on the sports field, or within the pages of a captivating story.

Karen Nicholson

UK Support Coordinator

Karen joined Learn International in 2023. She moved to London from the North East of England, at 18, to study at the London College of Fashion and did her Masters at the Royal College of Art – so she has first-hand knowledge of experiencing London as a student. Before Learn International, she travelled internationally for many years working within the global live music touring industry.

Karen has a wealth of international travel expertise, gained in diverse locations such as snowy shows on ski slopes, stages in European Soccer Stadiums and many muddy festival fields. She’s passionate about London, history, live performance, art and design – and the speediest way of getting around the city on public transport or a cycle!

Samuel Cormorand

Customised Programmes Intern

Samuel started his work placement with Learn International in January 2024 as part of his final university exchange. Samuel’s thirst for discovery led him to study in several countries (such as France and Canada) to have a better understanding of the socio-cultural challenges of our society. Being an international student himself, he is genuinely enthusiastic about assisting fellow students in creating equally amazing experiences.

Samuel loves turning simple moments into new adventures, whether it’s sharing a laugh with friends over coffee or exploring different parts of the city.

Paul Davitt

Internships and Semesters Abroad Intern

Paul is studying Human Resource Management in SETU Co. Carlow and is currently in the third year of a four-year program.
Before joining Learn International in January 2024, he worked as a retail manager, but no longer feels that this career path is the right fit for him as he aspires to pursue a future career in HR, focusing on strategic planning and career development.

 

In his free time, Paul enjoys soccer, hiking, and cooking. Although he doesn’t consider himself a chef, he cooks meals he likes and usually sticks to familiar recipes. He once baked a poorly made loaf of bread, and even his posh dog refused to eat it.

Daniel Khijinski

Internships and Semesters Abroad Intern

Daniel has joined the team in January 2024 and is currently pursuing a degree in marketing. Born in England and of Russian descent, he began to live in Ireland at a young age and grew up in the country. Having previously worked in both a hospital and retail, Daniel has interacted with many people from diverse backgrounds.

During his leisure time, Daniel enjoys reading, playing sports, and planning future travel adventures. He is a travel enthusiast having lived in several countries including France and Switzerland and he aspires to learn multiple languages and gain a variety of experiences to cherish in the future.