Global Scholars Program

Thayer Academy's Global Scholars Capstone Program promotes greater awareness of and engagement in global issues by combining interdisciplinary academic learning with application to real-world experiences. The program provides the context for active global citizenship, including participation in a variety of curricular and extracurricular activities that will demand initiative and responsibility. Global Scholars come with the spirit of inquiry and a desire to flourish as they deepen their commitment to "contribute to the common good." Global Scholars weave global citizenship more prominently into
the fabric of this vibrant Thayer community and beyond the campus.

Students who successfully complete all of the program requirements are recognized as Thayer Academy Global Scholars at graduation.

Program Requirements:

  • Curricular requirements: a minimum of three and one-half credits during junior and senior year in some combination of courses with significant international content; qualifying courses would include advanced foreign language classes (level IV, V, and AP), approved history and English electives, and/or environmental science
  • Active participation in a globally- or culturally-based club or activity
  • Attendance at school-sponsored Global Programs events, including Capstone presentations
  • Successful completion of the Global Scholars Seminar, a capstone course incorporating a research project and a community presentation
  • Digital portfolios maintained by participating students will track and record the experiences associated with each of these requirements.
  • Program Strong Recommendation: An international immersion and/or service experience to be completed prior to the start of senior year during extended school breaks or summer vacations. Students on financial aid may apply for financial support for approved trips.
Thayer Academy Global Scholars Program Logo

Thayer Academy students were never meant to know only one place no matter how cozy and pleasant the campus may be. From the beginning, they were encouraged to reach out, led to step out, make contact with foreign places and gain the understanding to make themselves better people and the world a better place.

Excerpted from The History of Travel at Thayer by Larry Carlson, History Teacher and Archivist

Curricular Requirements

Program participants must earn a grade of "B" or better in three and one-half credits worth of qualifying courses. Current qualifying courses include:

  • French IV
  • French IV Honors
  • French V
  • AP French
  • Latin IV
  • Latin IV Honors
  • AP Latin — Virgil
  • Spanish IV
  • Spanish IV Honors
  • Spanish V
  • Chinese IV
  • AP Spanish Language
  • Hispanic History and Culture*
  • Global History Lessons Honors
  • Global Scholars Seminar
  • African History and the Afro-American Experience
  • Art History
  • History of Ireland
  • Hiroshima and the Holocaust
  • Resolving Global Conflicts
  • AP Environmental Science

*only if a student has achieved level III or higher of a foreign language

In addition, students must take the Global Scholars capstone course and complete and present to the community the related research project.

Foreign Travel

A key component of the Global Scholars Program is the international immersion and/or service experience. This experience can occur anytime from the start of freshman year until the start of senior year. Our goal is to encourage these excursions prior to senior year so that the student can share his or her experiences with the Thayer community and can reflect and build upon those experiences during the capstone course and the related research project. Senior Project trips, therefore, would not qualify for this component of the Global Scholars Program. However, there are limitless possibilities available to fulfill this requirement. Options include:

Thayer Academy Travel Opportunities:

TA Affiliated Programs:

Other Possible Programs (with prior approval):

Clubs and Activities

One requirement of the Global Scholars Program is to serve as an active member in one of Thayer's many international or multicultural clubs or activities. The following groups are among those that would qualify for this element of the program:

  • Model UN
  • Hope for Haiti
  • Amnesty International

Please note: "active participation" means regular attendance at meetings, involvement in at least one major project during the year, and confirmation from the activity's faculty advisor.

This element may also be satisfied by serving as a host family for any of our sister-school exchange programs:

  • CHIREC School, Hyderabad, India
  • Wei Yu High School, Shanghai, China
  • Lycée Stanislas, Cannes, France
  • HIA, Vigo, Spain

Public Events

Attend and reflect upon at least six public events with significant international content. Such events might include museum exhibits, concerts, lectures, or other relevant experiences (if in doubt, obtain prior approval from the TAGS Program Coordinator). All activities must be properly documented and approved.

For possible events, check out (among other places):

Sample events from the past:

Berklee Performance Center
Tuesday, May 6, 2014

(with Edward O. Wilson, Piotr Naskrecki, and Gregory C. Carr)
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Saturday, May 17, 2014

Umunthu and Basta
Sunday, April 20, 2014

Becoming a Global Scholar - Program Timeline

Interested in becoming a Thayer Academy Global Scholar? Here is how to make it happen:

Freshman and Sophomore years:

  • Indicate your interest in the Global Scholars Program (contact the Program Director and build your program portfolio)
  • Take language classes that will keep you on track to take advanced language courses junior and senior year
  • Plan or participate in qualifying travel programs
  • Get involved in an approved club or activity, or host an exchange student
  • Begin attending approved public events

Junior year:

  • Begin taking available courses (especially advanced language classes)
  • In the spring, be sure to sign up for qualifying history, English, foreign language, or science electives (including Global Scholars Seminar)
  • Complete foreign travel component
  • Be involved in an approved club or activity, or host an exchange student
  • Continue attending approved public events

Senior year:

  • Fulfill curricular requirements
  • Take fall Global Scholars Seminar; successfully complete Global Scholars project and present your project to the community
  • Be involved in an approved club or activity, or host an exchange student
  • Complete public event attendance requirements
  • Meet all program requirements and graduate as a Thayer Academy Global Scholar!


Our first student participants in the Global Scholars program were tasked with profiling Thayer Academy graduates who live and work abroad, and asking them what it means to be a global citizen.

Erin Lyall '97, Producer-CBS News, by Holly Doyle '16

Global citizenship can mean various things to different people. It can mean being a resident of another country, having travel experience, living within another culture, or even just having a global mindset. Some may not even know how to define global citizenship. However, Erin Lyall ’97 is living the life of a global citizen.

Saudi Arabia, the Ukraine, and Syria are just a few of the astonishing places Erin Lyall has travelled to and worked in as a producer for CBS news. Currently living in London, Erin covers all news from the Atlantic Ocean to Beijing. You won’t see her in front of the camera, because she is skillfully behind it organizing interviews and making sure deadlines are met and everything runs smoothly.

While at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, Erin had originally planned to be a diplomat. She worked at CBS as an intern in 2003 and watched and transcribed videotape that came in from the field. Later, she learned that teams existed all over the world covering these stories with correspondents, producers, and cameramen.

After learning about how the news process worked she said, “I thought that was the coolest job… It was really eye opening and from that point forward, that was the goal in the back of my head.”

While it did take ten years of hard work for Erin to live and work abroad as a CBS producer in the London Bureau, she did some really amazing things during that time. For example, she visited all fifty states, covered Hurricane Katrina, Obama’s 2008 campaign, the earthquake in Haiti and tsunami in Japan.

Even though Erin travels and covers world news, she doesn’t shy away from the fact that there are challenges to her work. She notes the top two challenges in working abroad are language and cultural awareness/differences. Regarding language, Erin says, “One of the first things I do in my line of work when I get sent somewhere is to find someone who can do all the translating for us and to help us get around. If I can’t communicate in the local language, then we aren’t going to get anything we want.”

Cultural awareness is another challenge because it varies greatly from country to country. An example of a cultural difference that Erin noted was a time when she interviewed a conservative cleric in Saudi Arabia about “why he thought women should not be able to drive.” Erin reached out to shake his hand and introduce herself to which he put his hand over his chest. This happened because conservative Muslims do not shake women’s hands. Erin said, “That is a fairly obvious thing to be aware of and I had just forgotten about it in that moment… and that was embarrassing.”

Another, more serious challenge, that most people do think of when they hear about news crews in the Middle East -- is safety. Lyall has had her share of dangerous and frightening moments. She and her crew have been shot at by ISIS and also taken and interrogated in Ukraine. But she said, even “the simple things” can be scary too, like “driving from the airport to the hotel in Afghanistan. You can barely breathe and you are just sitting there … waiting for something terrible to happen.”

Erin Lyall’s work does come with very real challenges and dangers, but it is also extraordinarily rewarding. When I asked Erin about the rewards that came with her job, she responded, “It’s rewarding to tell important stories that people aren’t necessarily hearing. I don’t pretend that we are changing people’s lives and I don’t pretend that we are making American foreign policy or influencing foreign leaders. But it is very rewarding to be somewhere where something important is happening and just shine a light on that thing, to tell people something they might not be aware of.”

Both while on the job and in her free time, Erin keeps a food blog. Her blog, Food Under Fire, examines what she is eating while in war zones, food in local markets, and even strange foods like prickly pears. Erin likes to keep the blog because she says, “I just enjoy the writing but I also like exposing people to this. Work is rewarding, at times dangerous, at times stressful but it’s these little side experiences that make it really special.”

While at Thayer, Erin travelled to England as a freshman. She said, “I was grateful the opportunity existed while at Thayer because I could travel alone. (I was) living with a family on my own, eating marmite, and experiencing a totally different culture in suburban England at a young age and all of that matters.”

Additionally, as a senior, she travelled to France with Mr. Rooney. She said that she enjoyed the France trip so much because “We were not just sightseeing, we were actually reading Beckett plays, learning art history, and speaking French in the places where these things had been written or painted.” Erin said that both of these trips “really sat with me and they were some of my favorite things about Thayer.”

When asked what she thought Global Citizenship meant, Erin said, “…to me Global Citizenship would mean, that at the very least, we have a duty to be informed about the world. To pay attention to the world around us and how it works. To contribute in ways big and small to make it a better place. Citizenship, to me, implies an active involvement: you don’t have to change the world, but you can make small ripples in the big pond. Change one life, impact one issue, inform one neighborhood. Recognize that we are all part of the same tapestry and be mindful of our actions within it.” I think we are extremely fortunate to have someone like Erin Lyall not only in our own Thayer community, but also in our global community.

Jennifer MacDonald '92, Global Communications Executive at Bloomberg LP, by Ally Charleston '16

Jennifer MacDonald, a Thayer graduate from the Class of ‘92, exemplifies the distinction between a tourist and a traveller; she doesn’t aim to simply see the world, she aims to understand it. Currently living in London, Jennifer works for the retired mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. Since graduation, she has lived in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alaska, Connecticut, New York City, and finally London.

Not only was it clear to Jennifer that she would never be the type to live in and appreciate only one culture, but it is clear that she is loves to learn, experience new environments, and be pushed outside of her comfort zone. She describes the feeling on her first day at Bucknell, a small liberal arts university located in rural PA, as “trapped” and that she knew right away it wasn’t for her. She also recognizes that the path many of her former peers chose to take was not for her.

“Some of my high school friends have never lived outside of Massachusetts… although they are happy, that was definitely not the life for me.”

Transferring from Bucknell to UNC Chapel Hill, Jennifer completed her undergraduate schooling with a degree in political science, planning on having a career in law. Deciding to follow a different path that nurtured her love for traveling and discovering the world, she then devoted her time and energy to journalism at Columbia for her post-graduate degree.

“Then I sort of fell into the TV thing out of college… I got a job at WHDH and then was a TV reporter in Alaska for two years, which was crazy.”

She then became a producer for 60 Minutes for seven years, working in New York City.

“I would do a lot of really cool interviews. We covered the financial crisis, the housing crisis… some really interesting stories.” But, after about eleven years in the same city, Jennifer jumped at the opportunity to explore a new one: London. Originally only planning on staying in London for six months, when Bloomberg offered her a full-time role at the company in London, she couldn’t turn down the chance to explore a whole new city, culture, and part of the world.

“With six months, you can’t really get the feel of a city… there is just so much culture here it’s great.”

Although Jennifer loves her job, she admits to missing her family and friends in New York often. But, as comfortable as she was there, she also loves to be thrown into the British culture to distract her from any woes she may have: “...the other night my coworker asked if I wanted to go see Macbeth so we just walked downtown and saw Macbeth at the movie theater. It was very British, a very British thing to do.”

Jennifer’s only lament about living in London is that the bacon is “just not the same.”

With Bloomberg LP, Jennifer is able to incorporate journalism into her job while also representing the company through public relations, and working directly with Mike Bloomberg on clean energy endeavors. Jennifer will research charities, plan events, and make an effort to be as informed as possible about global issues; she strives to find new ways for Bloomberg to contribute to worthy causes by implementing her skills in journalism. Bloomberg, estimated to have a net worth close to 40 billion dollars, decided five years ago to give all of his money away by the time he dies.

She describes his attitude as, “I want to owe a check to my funeral undertaker; I want to give every last penny away.” Now one of the most philanthropic people in the United States, Bloomberg started his philanthropy company a couple of years ago.

“It’s really cool going to work everyday knowing that the money I work with ends up, at the end of the day, going to a charity.” Jennifer’s role at Bloomberg LP is in global communications and is designed to push out the message of clean energy and philanthropy that Michael Bloomberg has created.

Reflecting on her experiences abroad and the meaning of global citizenship Jennifer said, “I think over here it definitely teaches you that you can’t just lump everyone into a bucket. You meet absolutely everyone… in the US, being so sheltered, it is so easy to rely on stereotypes. Over here, the attitude is more like: ‘We are all in this together’. It forces you to just be tolerant. All of those preconceived notions just kind of go out the window. It has been good for me.”

Whether it be through her apparent altruism at Bloomberg LP, or her devotion to global citizenship and cultural tolerance, Jennifer MacDonald is making inspirational strides for the Thayer alumni community as well as any current Thayer student who is fortunate enough to hear her story.

Grace Shalhoub '90, Filmmaker, Producer, Screenwriter, by Amanda Gilmour '16

As a part of the new Global Scholars program at Thayer, I have already been introduced to global issues, cultural events, and new ways of thinking. This past week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Grace Shalhoub, Thayer Academy class of ‘90. Grace currently lives in Lebanon and works as a screenwriter and producer of independent films. Although we had to work around the seven-hour time difference to Skype, Grace was bubbly and eager to speak with me. Born in Lebanon and raised in Boston, Grace attended Thayer Academy, Boston College, and New England School of Law, and later moved back to Lebanon to start a family. Grace is passionate about traveling and has visited many places around the world, including Thailand, Italy, Russia, Iraq, England, Austria, and India (to name a few). Her love of traveling has been influenced by many factors and has greatly changed her perspective on the world and what it means to be a global citizen.

Grace is the oldest of four children, and her parents are first generation Lebanese. Grace was raised in Boston, and did not return to Lebanon until many years later. In her 20s, her family began visiting Lebanon in the summers. At that time, traveling to the Middle East was mostly unheard of, and many people would ask, “Are you all covered up? Do you drive camels? Do you live in tents?” These stereotypical questions are only a small example of the prejudice other cultures face in our world today.

Grace’s high school and college experiences greatly influenced her desire to travel. As we talk, she explains how her bag is “half packed all the time.” In high school, she studied French, and highlights a class trip to France with Madame Florescu, which inspired her to see more. When asked about the Thayer trip she explained, “It’s nice when a school can provide that for its students because it broadens your horizons in a way, over and beyond what books, the classroom, or the Internet can.” However, Grace really “found her niche” at Boston College where she majored in Political Science and minored in Middle Eastern studies. Although she did not live in the dorms at BC, (she explained that this was partly a cultural factor, since her parents were first generation Lebanese, they did not want their eldest child, let alone daughter, to leave home), she still became fully immersed in college life by joining international groups, Middle Eastern groups, and other European groups. She also completed a study abroad trip for three months in Spain. “By the time I was in college and meeting so many different people, I knew that I at least wanted to travel,” Grace explains how she was influenced by her college experiences.

Grace eventually moved to Lebanon after meeting her (now ex-) husband in Boston. They returned to Lebanon and started a family. They now have three children, Alexa, Anthony, and Anabelle.

Not only is Lebanon the opposite of what people imagine--picture beach and skiing--not desert and war, it also has other benefits. Grace commented, “It’s nice being in this part of the world because living in the states it was always a lot harder to come to Europe or the Middle East or Asia because it’s so far. Living here, I’m four hours from France or Germany, five hours from London, Asia, I could go to Dubai, I could go to Northern Africa, it’s really close. So there are advantages to living here because you can easily go to so many places.”

“Meeting so many people from different cultures and learning about all those differences as well as similarities, I just felt like I wanted to be more of a citizen of the world. I’m from Boston, but if you ask me now where do you live, I’ve lived in Lebanon, I’ve lived in Iraq, I’ve lived on the East coast, and the West coast of United States, and I travel almost once a month either to Europe or to somewhere around here,” Grace explains of her experiences. She has seen so many parts of the world and experienced other cultures through unique projects, such as cultural and religious heritage and antiquities protection and preservation (from ISIS) in Iraq that she is such a role model for anyone who would strives to be a global citizen.

Grace has worked in many different fields, including working as a consultant, a screenwriter/producer of independent films, and has just started her own independent film production company, Tyrian Purple Pictures. The mission of Tyrian Purple Pictures is to produce, develop, and direct “a wide range of films based on relevant themes to both entertain universal audiences and inspire social change. Through compelling storytelling, culture, art and technology, TPP aims to create a bridge between the Levant and the rest of the world, replacing negative stereotypes with the genuine realities of this cradle of civilization.” The act of replacing negative stereotypes and accepting other cultures is such an essential part of being a global citizen, and I admired Grace’s drive to create films that actually achieve this. “As a filmmaker, my mission is to create bridges, artistic bridges, cultural bridges, educational bridges.

Because I’ve had the experience living between East and West, and have been asked a lot of questions about everything in between the spheres, by both the informed and curious, as well as the misinformed and sheltered. You know, the news has a way of shaping people’s mindsets, sometimes not for the better. But people need to see, hear, and read between the media lines. I feel very lucky to have had the education and inspiration from my family and teachers to pursue my dreams and reach such far places. And so, I feel a responsibility to share my first-hand experiences with others. If I can do that through my art, to share information, stories and impressions, while entertaining global audiences, then there would be a purpose to my art.”

In addition to her new company, she is currently in pre-production for a film about Khalil Gibran. Khalil Gibran is an author, philosopher, and artist. He lived in Lebanon and immigrated to the U.S., eventually ending up in Boston in the late 1800s. Through this movie, Grace hopes to weave the Lebanese immigrant story into the immigrant story of the United States. It is so dear to her heart because of his similarity to her. They both have this dual-citizenship and both faced the struggle of stereotypes and not fitting in. “So, I’m trying to take that experience of global citizenship and apply it to film, because visually that’s how people relate,” Grace explains of her new film.

Her first project for Tyrian Purple Pictures is a “passion piece about a Syrian music band and their flight from Syria through Lebanon, Turkey, Serbia, and Macedonia, finally ending their journey in Berlin, Germany,” Grace explains of the new film. Although most of the band members have made it to Berlin, one is still stuck in Beirut. Tragically, the drummer of the band was shot dead for uploading videos to YouTube about the uprising in Syria against the dictatorial regime. Grace said, “His assassination drove the rest of the band to seek refuge and emigrate.” Through this heart-wrenching piece, including the young band’s unique journey and progressive music, Grace seeks to tell the current event story of the Syrian refugee crisis in an entertaining way, so that both young and old audiences can relate to it. During the production of this movie, Grace will be living between Beirut and Berlin.

One of the main components of the Global Scholars program is becoming a global citizen, or a citizen of the world. When I asked Grace what she thinks it means to be a global citizen, she said, “I think the more you see beyond your borders and live, whether for a month or year or even longer, outside of what you know, that safe environment you’ve used to, then you start feeling like a global citizen. When you leave the safety of American borders and actually use your passport, and start to see, hear, and taste different things, and you like what you are experiencing, it ignites something inside you, an energy and a desire for more--more places, more people--the world all of a sudden becomes boundless. You may want to live in another place and immerse yourself in the culture. That doesn’t happen unless you feel comfortable and safe. That’s the trick. Surprising yourself and feeling very okay in a place that ordinarily you would be weirded out by. You relate to the people, whereas you used to see them as a “foreigner”, now they are a friend or a colleague. That’s when you become a global citizen. Initially, you will say to yourself, okay I’m in a foreign country and have nothing in common with these people. The language and food are always the first separators. But then you meet somebody who you can actually relate to, who moves you in some way. They could be a mom, dad, sister, daughter, student, teacher, professional, somebody just like you. You share similarities, problems, laughs, tears, or simply a coffee or a beer. That’s when you become a global citizen. Because then when things get serious, and the news tells you that something is going on in your new friend’s country, you all of a sudden relate. You say to yourself, ‘Oh my! I was there! I hope they’re okay.’ Or, ‘Wow, I’m so proud of them.’

Empathy unifies people and makes the world a smaller, borderless place. You become a part of the world at large, see and feel what’s going on between the hometown--the comfort zone--identify with people you previously couldn’t imagine as friends or neighbors, believe that their cause is your cause--the world’s cause--because we are one and the same. After all, all things have a ripple effect, there is a deep connection between every person and place. We just have to find it. And we won’t do that behind the white picket fences of our little suburbs.” It is amazing the effect traveling and experiencing other cultures can have on a person. One of my favorite parts of the interview was hearing Grace talk about borders. All of the stereotypes and prejudices can become so consuming, and can limit our views on the world. However, Grace just sees it as “one world”, and that is a view I would like to strive for. She says, “I don’t see things anymore in borders. I just see it as one world, especially now with the Internet. It’s just ridiculous to think in that short-sighted, limited, very narrow vision. It just doesn’t make sense anymore, at all.” This unique vision is something that cannot be taught, but can only be learned through being open to many different experiences.

Although Grace has lived in Lebanon for half of her life, when asked whether she considers Lebanon or Boston her home, her answer was complicated. “It depends where I am. So, when I get asked that in the States, I say I’m from Boston, but I know it depends on the situation. So when I’m here, in Lebanon, everyone knows I’m Lebanese, originally, but because of my accent or something they’ll be like, ‘So where are you from?’ So I know they’re asking where are you from because you’re foreign, you’re not purely Lebanese. So I say I’m American. But when I’m in the States and I look, you know, obviously there’s some sort of ethnicity going on there, I’ll tell them I’m originally Lebanese. I consider both my home, but like I said, I could live anywhere. But that’s just me.” However, after more reflection, Grace says, “So I guess the short answer would be the States because, well, when your childhood is somewhere, that’s home. I still go back. I guess I’ve lived here now for maybe 17 years but home is still Boston. For sure. When I do come back stateside, first thing I do is visit my old neighborhood in Canton. It looks so small now. Second, I go to Thayer. I sit in the bleachers and take in the fresh cut grass, it triggers lots of great memories. But after all is said and done, I must say, and to quote a great movie, ‘There’s no place like home’.”

And if you are interested in pursuing a career internationally or just traveling the world, take it from Grace, who recommends first traveling while in school, and if possible, spending a semester or an entire year abroad. Strengthening the language is also very important. Grace recommends Spanish or French. And then if you have the opportunity, to get an internship or a job abroad.

She says of living abroad, “You just pick up certain reflexes, living abroad, not being this naive American where everything is like white-picket fence. You start to learn that yeah, the electricity does go out in some countries.” (The electricity actually went out during our interview.) “There isn’t Internet everywhere you go, there are pickpockets, you need to be really smart. It just gives you a different perspective and more survival skills. There’s a lot of opportunity for Americans abroad. . . I would definitely recommend for anyone in your position to live in Europe for a bit. It’s so central and you can go any where. Europe’s fantastic. It is expensive, but you can take the train, or these low-cost flights, and it’s like there’s tons of stuff to do and tons of countries and languages and cultures and stuff it’s amazing. Amazing.”

Grace Shalhoub, writer, company-owner, world-traveler, mother, daughter, the list goes on; but out of all of the above, she can be defined as a global citizen who sees the world without borders and hopes through her work that others will do the same.