Christin Spoolstra, ’11

Christin Spoolstra

Deputy Country Director, Caring for Cambodia

Albion Majors: English Literature, Political Science

Post-Albion, Christin immediately joined the United States Peace Corps in Cambodia. She was assigned as an English Teacher and Teacher Training Volunteer in Svay Rieng Province. She lived in Svay Rieng for two years, staying with a Cambodian host family and working in a public high school. Christin then extended her service for a year as Volunteer Leader, living in Phnom Penh and working in the office.

Christin said: “Through Peace Corps, I fell in love with Cambodia and the Cambodian people. I want to work passionately toward development in this country.”

After the Peace Corps, she moved to Siem Reap Province to accept a job with Caring for Cambodia.

With what organizations were you involved as an Albion College student?

  • Honors Institute
  • Student Volunteer Bureau
  • Women’s Lacrosse
  • The Bridge, Council on Interfaith Relations
  • Student Research Partner Program – Dr. Margaret Young, Communication Studies
  • FURSCA – thesis research under Dr. Dyron Dabney, Political Science
  • Sleight Leadership Fellows Program
  • Petitions Committee – Student Representative

What is a memorable moment from your time in the Ford Institute?

The group project for PBSV 101, Ford’s intro course, left a definitive mark on me. By not only sending new first years out on a mission to learn about our new community but also to then put that new knowledge into social action, Ford began to shape the direction of my education. Knowledge is nothing without accompanied, directed action. Furthermore, by inviting respected community leaders to join in our presentations – leaders who demonstrated a genuine interest in us and our ideas – I internalized that anyone can have an idea and the best leaders are those who are willing to listen to people, even if those new people are sometimes brazen first years. I don’t believe any of our projects went beyond the presentation stage, but the experience has always stuck with me as very formative.

What advice would you give to current and prospective students?

Invest in yourselves so that you can invest in others.

Attending Albion College is a great investment in yourself as Albion focuses on developing your whole person. You learn how to hone your passions, to discover new interests, to engage personally with professors who genuinely care, and to lead and serve on campus and in the community. My four years at Albion entirely changed the direction of my life in a way for which I am entirely grateful. Be open to the changes Albion might create in you.

How have Albion and the Ford Institute prepared you for your current career?

Albion, and Ford in particular, focus on providing a rounded, cross-discipline education that prepares students to be better citizens of the world. The classes and professors challenged me to think critically and openly about all aspects of an issue and to put those thoughts into action. For me, Albion also provided many extracurricular opportunities, such as Student Volunteer Bureau, that began developing professional skills which I use today.

What is the outlook for positions and opportunities within your field?

Unfortunately, there are still many opportunities in the international development field, but we’re constantly trying to work ourselves out of jobs. As I’m still new to the field myself, I can only relay the advice that I’ve received from others: Be willing to go anywhere. And remember that the path to working in international development is certainly not a linear one.

What did you do for your Ford internship?

I interned the Spring of my Junior year in former Senator Richard Lugar’s office in Washington, DC. I had received the Sharon Rees Fellowship for Women in Public Policy to help subsidize some of the costs.

As with most Senate internships, I focused on administrative tasks such as sorting mail, answering phones, and giving Capitol tours. However, I was also able to aid some of the Legislative Assistants in creating briefs and drafting letters. My supervisor gave me wide latitude in attending hearings on and off the Hill on topics that interested me.

Ford Alumni: We would love to hear from you!