About Susan

A Bit of History Behind My Love for Languages 

I consider myself a citizen of the world! Throughout my life’s journey, I have acquired a passion for a vast array of cultures and languages, which has led to my fluency in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. This journey began in Beirut, Lebanon — the city where I was born and raised. As the child of an American mother and Lebanese father, my youth was infused with diversity.   

1975 would see the rise of the Lebanese Civil War, propelling my parents to send my siblings and me to the United States to live until the war had ended. Needless to say, it took longer than we had expected and my life ended up a little differently than I had imagined it would while growing up in Beirut. I later married a gentleman from Mexico and together we welcomed our oldest daughter who was born in his motherland.   

You may ask, “What does this have to do with a professional bio?” Well, it simply explains my origin and the events that have undoubtedly served as the impetus for my passion for languages and the career path I have chosen.   

Education & Accreditation 

Prior to going into the field of teaching English as a second language, I had dreamed of becoming a Physical Education (PE) teacher — at that time, I loved sports; I was a skier, basketball player, and tennis player —, so, it seemed fitting that I would attain a degree in Physical Education, however, when my father ‘expressed’ that I was to obtain a master’s degree after graduating, I began to panic, as I knew that gaining a master’s in Physical Education would involve undertaking classes in science, which was certainly not my forte.   

After discussing my concern with the supervisor in the language lab where I had been working at the university, she suggested that I obtain a master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), as she knew my background (i.e., I was from Lebanon, spoke three languages, and was studying a fourth language) and she saw how much I enjoyed helping students in the language lab. Following her suggestion, I graduated from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1983 with a master’s degree in TESOL — and the rest is history.   


I taught ESL to adults in the Intensive English Program at Colorado State University and the “Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes” as well as children in a bilingual elementary school and Nissan factory workers in Aguascalientes, Mexico.    

In 1989, I moved to Reno, Nevada where I began teaching in the Intensive English Language Center, at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) — I was an instructor for the first nine years. During this time, I was promoted to Assistant Professor, and then in 1998, I became the Academic Coordinator.    

In addition to teaching, my duties were to support our students during their studies in our programs and to advise them and facilitate their transition into UNR or another institution of higher education in the US. I also ensured that the students were adapting well and having a positive experience in their new environment by referring those who were having difficulties with culture shock, or roommates, to the various resources available to them on campus.    

Additionally, I coordinated and participated in orientation sessions, testing, teaching assignments, and classroom scheduling. I held the position of Director from 2005 until the closure of the IELC in June of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Final Thoughts

Throughout my career, I have tried to include my love of sports as activities in the programs that I taught. For example, I started a sports night where we reserved a grass space on campus to play volleyball, soccer, and frisbee. Later, a colleague and I formed a volleyball team with interested students and joined a city volleyball league. As time progressed, we incorporated a Summer Olympics day where students in different levels, with their teachers, competed against each other at the end of the summer session.   

It has been my privilege to enrich the lives of the students and faculty that have placed their trust in me, and as we enter a new era, one that has been drastically marred by the emergence of COVID-19, my mission has been resolute — a mission that seeks to create communities in which students of all ages and walks of life can gather, learn, and share their love of language.   


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