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Where are they now? Amberley Middleton Honya ’00

By Amberley Middleton Honya ’00
Alumna credits her work supporting refugees with the importance of a global community instilled in her as an LJCDS student.
I feel extremely privileged to be a La Jolla Country Day School lifer, and I know this was only possible because I was a beneficiary of the tuition assistance program. One of the strengths of a Country Day education is that it is truly holistic. For example, among the many fond memories of my time at LJCDS, a few that stand out are Pocket Poetry Day with Mrs. Middleton (aka my mother!), the fourth-grade biography fair, outdoor education and college trips, participating in the academic league, playing violin in the orchestra, and participating in community service programs with Mrs. Nordenger.
I attended UC Berkeley as an undergrad and majored in anthropology. During that time, I studied abroad for a semester at the University of Ghana in West Africa. Thinking back to the lessons I had learned at LJCDS about the importance of being involved with the wider community led me to volunteer at the Buduburam Liberian refugee camp. I worked with a refugee-led non-profit that provided educational and social services to the camp population.
This experience had a lasting impact on me and led me to look for a job in the refugee resettlement sector upon my return. After my graduation from UC Berkeley, I spent a year as a Literacy AmeriCorps member with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in San Diego. My job was to teach after-school English classes to refugee and immigrant high school students. After my AmeriCorps service year was finished, I was happy to be able to stay on as a staff member at the IRC. I worked in the youth programs department for almost a decade and was responsible for designing and leading academic and enrichment programs for newcomer youth from all over the world. During this time, we partnered with LJCDS on several community service projects, including Walk for Water.
After spending my 20s working as a youth development practitioner, I was interested in learning more about the history and policy aspects of migration and refugee resettlement so I went back to school and earned a master’s degree in international migration and public policy from the London School of Economics.
After a brief stint as a program director for an educational non-profit in LA, I decided to go back to school again. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in the faculty of education at the University of Cambridge. My research focuses on refugee education policies and practices, as well as the lived experiences and educational trajectories of former refugee youth who have been resettled in the U.S. During my time as a Ph.D. student, I also managed to get married and give birth to my daughter, Daphne, who is now a year old!
From where I am now, I can say with even more confidence that LJCDS provided me with not only an outstanding education (particularly in terms of critical thinking and writing skills) but with a supportive community and a strong foundation on which to continue to grow and develop my intellect, creativity and character as an adult.

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