Meet our Alumni

From AIB student to AIB student: Check out what former students say about their time at AIB and get a glimpse of what they currently do. Do you want to be featured as an alumni on our website? Please send us an email.

Jaxon Kelly

Program LMU BAC Program Fall 2018
Current Job Position Architecture Student


About Studying Abroad: 

Regardless of the obvious cliché that come along with this claim, choosing to study abroad in Bonn, Germany was one of the best decisions I have ever made. After my freshman year at Loyola Marymount University I felt a bit lost with not much direction. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to see and experience what else the world had for me.

How studying abroad changed me: 

In ways I cannot verbalize, studying abroad changed me. Being so far away from home, so far out from my comfort zone allowed me to grow from the person I was as a freshman into a much more experienced and worldly individual. I am still figuring out what I want to do, but I feel closer than I did a year ago.

Why I wanted to come back to Bonn: 

After my semester concluded, I was not yet ready to get back into my humdrum student schedule back in Los Angeles. I had fallen in love with this little German city and the connections I made here in Europe. In order to ride out the high of living, I applied for an internship with the AIB and have been helping out around here since.

All of the coordinators and AIB staff have a great amount of work they have to get through in order to make sure the students who come study here, so far from everything they know, have a safe and enjoyable time while abroad. What I currently do is provide assistance wherever it is needed, whether helping to organize student events, helping the coordinators with paper work, and do my best to provide any information that students may need about their time here. Apart from this I spend my free time still running along the Rhine, eating great food, and practicing my German with every chance I get.

What I currently do:                

When I return to the US, I will begin a completely new chapter of my life. I recently heard back from SCI-Arc, the Southern California Institute of Architecture, and learned that I have been accepted into their rigorous program. My plans have now pivoted towards a future based in designing buildings, and I couldn’t be happier about it. My time spent in Germany was integral in my realizing that this was what I was meant to do, and the courses I took here strengthened my love for buildings and the art of space. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing a few years from now, but now I have direction towards a brighter and better future.

Alexa Mendoza

Program Texas A&M Bioscience Spring 2017
Current Job Position Graduate Student


About Studying Abroad: 

I decided to study abroad mainly because I wanted the opportunity to experience another culture that was different from the one I grew up in. I also wanted to seize the chance to live abroad and see a different perspective of the world. I picked the Biosciences program because it was a four month long program which would ensure at least a taste of all these things and the AIB seemed like the perfect organization to facilitate a study abroad program in that I immediately felt like they would provide a more hands-on and complete experience compared to other organizations that offered study abroad programs. 

How studying abroad changed me: 

 Academically, my study abroad semester made me learn how to prioritize my commitments. It’s very easy to forget the study aspect of a program like this so I had to learn to get my assignments done in a timely manner so that I could have fun without feeling guilty. I had the advantage of it being my last semester as an undergraduate student so I wanted to do well in all of my classes so I could graduate on a high note. I also had the best professor I have ever had, including my graduate studies, who showed me the definition of having passion for the job you do. Dr. Wasser is an incredible professor who not only taught me what I needed to know for my classes but also taught me invaluable life lessons. 
The biggest change during my semester came from my personal experiences. Towards the very beginning of the program, I broke my leg during a class excursion in Vienna and needed surgery when I came back to Bonn. I stayed in the program, largely due to the massive amount of support I had from the AIB staff and Dr. Wasser, and the month and a half on crutches passed quickly. I was able to participate in almost every aspect of the program and this experience taught me so much about myself and the people around me. My self-knowledge grew exponentially and I learned lessons on perseverance and having a positive attitude through a very unique situation. Upon reflection, I can say without a doubt that it was the best thing that could have happened to me because the things I learned about myself and the people I became close to along the way will last a lifetime.

Why I wanted to come back to Bonn:

I graduated right after my spring semester here in Bonn in May of 2017. I have now been a TA for three different Texas A&M programs, the 2018 Biosciences semester and the 2018 and 2019 History of Medicine summer sessions. When I was offered the position for the 2018 Biosciences semester, I accepted right away because I had the unique opportunity to do the program again, this time from a different viewpoint, and that was the main reason I wanted to come back as a teaching assistant. I was interested to see how the challenges of being a TA compared to the challenges of being a student in the program. Each program had their own special obstacles, but I am incredibly thankful for the experiences and all the knowledge I’ve garnered over the past few years. Another driving force for coming back often is the chance to be back in Bonn which truly feels like home to me. I love the city, the culture, the atmosphere, and most importantly, the dogs of the AIB. 

What I currently do:

I am currently one year into my Master of Public Health program at the University of Texas at El Paso with about a year and a half left. Afterwards, I hope to start my studies towards being a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. I would also love to come back to Bonn sometime in the future and hope I can keep some roots here.  

Nick Ertola

Program LMU Film Program 2015
Current Job Position Production/Post-Production Freelancer

About Studying Abroad:

I decided to study abroad my junior year of college because my older brother studied abroad when he was in school and had an amazing experience. I felt like everybody I talked to, who studied abroad - no matter where they went, had a great time, so I wanted to experience a semester like this for myself. I also love documentaries and making non-fiction content, so the Bonn Documentary Film Production semester fit perfectly with my interests. I also wanted the opportunity of traveling internationally by myself. My study abroad experience taught me so much about independence and breaking free from my comfort zone. 

How studying abroad changed me:

Studying abroad opened myself up to experiencing things I would never have had the opportunity of experiencing back home. It allowed my comfort zone to expand and for my confidence in myself to grow. Academically, I learned the ins and outs of what it takes to produce a short form documentary. Theories and practical knowledge that I learned in Bonn - I still use to this day! 

Why I wanted to come back to Bonn:

I graduated LMU in the spring of 2017. Ever since being a student in Bonn, I knew I always wanted to come back and work as the TA for the LMU Documentary Film Production Semester. I loved Bonn, I loved the people, my host family, the food, the Christmas markets, the Rheinaue park, and much more. I wanted to spend more time in Bonn, and this working opportunity allowed me to do that. It was a very rewarding experience to be on the other side of things - being a part of the staff of the AIB. I am glad that I was able to cultivate such a rewarding experience for other students. 

What I currently do:

As of right now, I am currently working as a freelancer in both the production and post production side of content creation in the greater Los Angeles area. I’m also trying to spend as much time with my family up in Sacramento, CA before I go back to Bonn this May to work a few more semesters with the AIB!  

Claire Andrae

AIB Program LMU Film Program 2014
Position Senior Film Student (graduating in May 2016)



About studying abroad:

„Before entering my 2014 study-abroad semester at the AIB in Bonn, Germany, I was leaning towards a career in documentary filmmaking, but was very uncertain if this was the path I should really take. During my time at the AIB, I was taking solely film classes related to editing, cinematography, and film production. Through this I really gained a sense of what my life after college would be like, where I could spend my time fully making my own films and helping others on theirs. I met many of my best friends and collaborators during my semester at the AIB, including my composer who I am now working with for the third time and my cinematographer, who I‘ve done five projects with now. The experience of making my first more professional documentary with the help of the AIB was so enjoyable and rewarding, that it made me realize that documentary filmmaking was going to be my future.“

What I currently do:

Since my semester at the AIB, I have completed a documentary that I shot in Brazil, and am currently working on my senior thesis documentary film, which is focused on climate change and wildfires in California. I will be graduating from LMU with a Bachelor in Film and Television Production in May 2016, and will be completing an internship at Ken Burns‘ production company Florentine Films upon graduation.

Karrena Gordon

AIB Program New Europe Program (Spring 2012)
Current Job Position Self Employed Photographer


About studying abroad:

I graduated from Loyola Marymount University in 2013 with a Bachelors in Business with an emphasis in Entrepreneurship and a minor in Studio Arts with an emphasis in Photography. One of the highlights of my entire college experience was studying abroad in Bonn, Germany through the New Europe Program in connection with AIB. I was deeply affected by what I learned about the Holocaust, divided Germany, and humanity as a whole during my time there. I created a collection of visual work which aims at encouraging a discussion about the extreme danger of inaction and passivity.

What I currently do:

I received the Gilman Scholarship for studying abroad and as a result, was required to complete a follow-on service project to share my learnings from abroad with people of my community at home.

I decided to incorporate my Judaism and passion for photography into what I was sure to learn during my study abroad experience in Germany. While traveling through Europe both independently and with the program, I took photographs of anything that I found might be related to what I wanted to bring back and share with the Loyola Marymount community. I absorbed as much information as possible about divided Germany as well as the Holocaust.

Independently, I also visited synagogues in Bonn, Koln, and Vienna. In Bonn and Koln, I became close with several members of the community after sharing in several weekly Shabbat dinners. I asked as many people as possible in the Jewish community for interviews to gain a perspective about modern Jewish life in Germany and how the Holocaust still affects them today. I also made connections with Rabbis in these communities who connected me with more Rabbis in Berlin. I called and spoke to several of them who gave me insightful information.

This experienced made my time abroad more academic than I had planned, and I am happy I attempted to reach out to the community to learn and build relationships. In the end, my research (both through AIB and independently) influenced the message of my follow-on service project.

My thesis in summary is: “When responsibility can be passed on to others, action or inaction becomes acceptable. Authority goes unquestioned. You are asked to ponder the significance of mental and physical stagnation.” To broaden my learnings and make them applicable to all of humanity, and not just the Holocaust, was my goal. To make what I learned stick with others so that it is remembered and so that we may be one step closer to a more unified people.

I invite you to visit: . There are images of the show-where my follow-on service project was displayed- that was at Loyola Marymount in November 2012. The show incorporated abstract photographs, water installation pieces, a toilet, a trampoline, a clock, and 1930s New York Times articles provoke thought about the power of an individual and the knowledge he chooses to use or to ignore.

Blake T. Smith

AIB Program Texas A&M Architecture (Spring 2007)



„I‘d like to thank the AIB for opening my eyes to architecture of an experimental and exploratory nature - for showing me how to break out of the proverbial „box“. Without this experience, I may never have arrived at a true appreciation of everything that architecture can be, rather than what it often is (uninspiring).“

Blake T. Smith was born on March 13, 1986 in Houston, TX. He grew up in the suburbs of Houston before attending Texas A&M University to study Architecture. It was during this period that he attended the AIB for a study abroad in Düsseldorf (Spring 2007). The sights seen and mentoring he received in studio inspired him to seek a new architecture; one that is not afraid to be bold or make a radical statement. He left Europe feeling enlightened, and possessing a strong passion for design that revealed itself through rigorous investigation and high perfor- mance in studio.

The experience stuck with him as he continued on to The University of Texas at Austin to pursue a Masters in Architecture. There his work ethic and talents attracted the attention of UT‘s world-class Center for Sustainable Development, directed then by Werner Lang. As a research associate, Blake focused on visualization and graphic design before getting involved in an on-going project that brings real-time building ener- gy data to social media applications. The UT Smart Building Initiative quanti es and visualizes something that has always been invisible (speci- cs of building energy consumption) to the UT student body in the form of a smart phone app called Curb. His time in Austin has inspired him to pursue designs that a ect the way we think about society, technology, and a world growing smaller by the nanosecond. Above all other things, Blake believes architecture is about people. He continuously seeks interesting and clever ways to engage the commu- nity with his designs. In addition to being ecologically and economically sound, true sustainable design enriches the lives of its occupants in an equitable and enjoyable fashion. It is this mentality that brought his attention to BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group in Copenhagen. BIG is one of the most creative and forward-thinking architecture rms currently in practice. They operate under the idea of „Hedonistic Sustainability“, proclai- ming that living sustainably actually improves quality of life rather than being a burden or painful sacri ce. Blake has entered into a professional residency with BIG, and is currently assisting in the development of a new waste-to-energy plant for Copenhagen that incorporates a pub- lic ski slope into its roofscape. In addition to being more e cient than the city‘s current plant, the building will provide a recreational amenity currently unavailable in Copenhagen, a city as at as it is cold! Blake is excited to further explore his perspectives on design and society in an energetic and intelligent o ce known for its optimistic responses to the sustainability challenge.

Bethany Weber

AIB Program Sport Business in Europe (2010)
CURRENT JOB POSITION Dance Instructor and Choreographer



“My time with the AIB Study Abroad Program in Bonn, Germany was by far the most phenomenal experience of my life. I have made indescri- bable memories and some of the best friendships with people from all over the world, which I know will last a lifetime! Without this program I would not have discovered my passion for disabled sport and regained my love for dance. I hope to one day culminate my passion for helping children with mental and physical disabilities with my love for teaching and inspiring children to dance and I owe it all to my experience with the AIB! I wish I could relive my study abroad over again, and I strongly urge students to take this opportunity!”


This girl loves dancing! Bethany has been dancing since the age of two and received most of her 20 years of training in ballet, jazz, tap, hip- hop, contemporary, and pointe. During her years of studio dancing she received many dance scholarships and awards at competitions across Texas, including 1stplace and Platinum awards at West Coast dance Explosion for her lead role in „The Greatest Stories Ever Told.“

Bethany attended Port Neches-Groves High School, where she was the Captain of the Indianettes dance team and was the Choreographer for the high school‘s award winning showcase choir, Indian Singers. During her time as captain, she led her team at Walt Disney World in the parade at Magic Kingdom in 2006, was accepted into the National High Kick Company, and awarded Most Outstanding Performer at American Dance/Drill Team. She was also a solo nalist and invited to peform at the Macy‘s Day Parade at MA Dance Camp for two years.

Bethany is a recent graduate of Texas A&M University, where she was a member of the Texas Aggie Dance Team. During her time on the team she was part of American rapper Soulja Boy‘s performance; and, performed at Big 12, NIT, and NCAA basketball tournaments and season games across the nation. At Texas A&M she was also part of Fade to Black hip-hop dance ensemble. With Fade to Black she choreographed contemporary pieces and performed in salsa and hip-hop routines.

Yet, due to an unexpected medical issue later resulting in surgery, Bethany had to put her passion for dance on hold her last year of college. She spent remainder of her college career focusing on her major, Sports Management, by working for Texas A&M football and the Director of Athletics. Prior to graduation, Bethany nished her degree and traveled with the Sports Management program to Bonn, Germany, where she participated in the AIB summer study abroad program Sport Business In Europe. It was through this program that Bethany discovered her passion for disabled sport and youth.

Upon graduation, Bethany immediately began her dance training again. In December 2010 Bethany was given her biggest and most prestigi- ous dance opportunity and auditioned to be a back-up dancer for the Black-Eyed Peas at Superbowl XLV. Two weeks later she received a pho- ne call that she had been selected as one of the elite Cubehead dancers that would perform on stage on February 6,2011 during Superbowl Halftime. She was a orded the opportunity to work with Fatima Robinson, who has choreographed for Michael Jackson, Usher, Prince, Rihan- na, President Barack Obama‘s inauguration event, and numerous other artists, lms, and awards events around the world.

Currently, Bethany resides in Dallas, TX where she is a dance instructor and choreographer for Highland Park Dance Company and continues to choreograph, judge, and instruct for other companies in Texas. When Bethany is not teaching or performing, she volunteers with di erent disabled youth and sports events. She is presently a professional dancer with Alter‘d Ego Dance Company and hopes to be able to continue her dance education and expand her dance career.

Colin Hanks

AIB Program New Europe Program (Fall 1997)



„My Time at AIB was a monumental chapter of my young adult life. Before I had even left Germany, I had begun telling people that my decision to study abroad was “one of the best decisions I have ever made”. The friendships and memories I made while in Bonn are as strong now as they were when I attended and I cannot recommend the program enough. Anyone who has the chance would be a fool not to go!“


Colin Hanks was born on November 24, 1977 in Sacramento, California, where he also grew up and spent his youth. After school, he decided to study acting and in 1998 he graduated from Loyola Marymount University in Westchester, California after spending one semester studying abroad at the AIB in Bonn, Germany. During his years at college, he participated in several school acting projects and played a small role in „The Thing You Do“ (1996).

Colin started auditioning in the year after his graduation from LMU. Due to his famous surname „Hanks“, he applied with a changed name to make sure he was chosen for his talent exclusively. Soon he was able to get hold of his rst parts in TV series and in the movie „Whatever it takes“.

In 2002, Colin joined Jack Black in the high school comedy „Orange County“ and was given a leading role next to Hilary Swank and Rachel Leigh Cook in „11:14“. The movie follows ve plot lines and nally merges them to expose a story of murder and deceit. It was selected to be the closing movie at Germany‘s fantasy lm festival 2003. Two years later, in 2005, Colin and Jack Black played together in „King Kong“. Here, Colin acted in the role of the assistant Preston.

Until today, Colin has been participating in several TV series such as „The O.C.“, „Numb3rs“, „Mad Men“and was particularly popular with his roles in „The Good Guys“ and „Roswell“. Apart from his TV appearances, he could be seen in numerous movies. Recently he played with Anto- nio Banderas and Meg Ryan in „My Mom‘s New Boyfriend“ and next to John Malkovich and Tom Hanks in „The Great Buck Howard.“

Colin Hanks is the eldest son of the well-known actor Tom Hanks and got married to New York publicist Samantha Bryan in 2010.

Matt Zuvela

AIB Program New Europe Program (Fall 2004 & Spring 2005)
CURRENT JOB POSITION Radio and Online News Reporter at Deutsche Welle



It must be the Kölsch that has kept me coming back to Germany over the past ve years. Apparently, it‘s quite in uential, because I‘ve lived here twice since my two semesters of study abroad as a junior at LMU. The rst time I came back was to teach English at a high school in Bonn as a Fulbright scholar. After that, I moved back to my native Washington state and tried to nd a job. The recession threw that plan out the window, so I decided to look for another chance to come back to Germany. Luckily, the Deutsche Welle right here in Bonn had a positi- on available. I cover German and European news for online and radio. I work for the English language service, and our radio broadcasts are heard around the world.

One of the coolest parts about my job is that I get to travel on occasion. Recently I did a story on soccer fans up in a town called Gelsenkirchen (tons of fun - went to a match with some of the biggest die-hards I‘ve ever met). Last summer I was sent to cover the Track and Field Cham- pionships in Berlin, which is an ideal assignment for a runner geek like me. As a student at the AIB, I went on some fantastic trips, too. Hiking and biking in Interlaken was great, as was snowboarding with my host family in the French Alps. I‘ve developed a tradition of seeking out the local beer in the places I visit and giving it a thourough tasting. I try not to let the beer-snobbery get out of hand, though - I went back to the states recently on vacation and I‘m not at all ashamed to say the rst beer I had was a PBR out of a can.

It‘s safe to say that without the AIB, I would not have the job I have today. During my two semesters of study abroad, I quickly became accusto- med to life in Germany and I feel very comfortable living in Bonn. My German lessons at the AIB were essential; part of my job now is transla- ting German news stories into English. I ran my rst marathon in Bonn, my second in Cologne, and my third will be back in Bonn in April 2010. I met my best German friends through the AIB (and have lived in two great apartments as a result). I even got set up in my last relationship through the AIB dating service!

I‘m most grateful to the AIB for cracking open the door to a life I never would have thought possible for myself. Before coming to Bonn for the rst time, I had never met anyone who had just packed up and moved to Europe - I mean, who REALLY does such a thing? But at the AIB, I got a little taste of what that life might be like, and I realized that taking the full plunge and making a living abroad wasn‘t such a far fetched idea after all.

I‘m not sure how long this Euro experiment of mine will last, but for the time being, I‘m happy with my job and the things I‘ve got going for my- self in Germany. I think I‘ll end up back in the States someday, but that Kölsch has a strange ability to make people stay... Auf wiedersehen!

Matt Zuvela,
LMU Class of 2006

Alison Geddie

AIB Program FITS Europe – Film & Television Semester Program (Fall 2004 / Spring 2005)



„Studying at AIB was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was exciting and a bit scary to be in a foreign country where I didn‘t speak the language, but the sta at AIB made the transition easy and comforting. I feel like I got more life experience in 2 semesters than I did my whole 4 years of college. I learned the best ways to interview people when you have to use a translator, I learned how to tell a story, and I learned to communicate without the proper words. These are invaluable lessons that I remember to this day and use in my life. If I could go back, I would!“


Music has always been in Allison Geddie’s blood. At twelve years old she was already sowing the seeds of what has grown into a love of composing and performing music. Schooling herself on artists like Ben Harper, Alanis Morisette, and Rob Thomas, she picked up her father’s guitar and began instinctually writing her own songs. By fteen she booked herself a gig at a local café in Connecticut, and her music career was born...

Music has always been in Allison Geddie’s blood. At twelve years old she was already sowing the seeds of what has grown into a love of composing and performing music. Schooling herself on artists like Ben Harper, Alanis Morisette, and Rob Thomas, she picked up her father’s guitar and began instinctually writing her own songs. By fteen she booked herself a gig at a local café in Connecticut, and her music career was born.

Allison’s stunning presence and musical ability is garnering her an ever-growing fan base, which isn’t surprising; serious music fans know a good thing when they hear it. With melodies sometimes delicate and haunting, sometimes raw and unbridled, her lyrics hint at life’s deeper, darker truths – truths that invoke in listeners a powerful and palpable sense of connection, inspiration, and belonging. As a result, she’s cons- tantly booked in clubs throughout L.A and her songs have been featured on ABC’s “The View” and „All My Children.“

At the behest of legendary producer David Foster, songwriter and producer Greg Critchley (whose credits include Miley Cyrus/Hannah Mon- tana, Michelle Branch, and “High School Musical”) enthusiastically took on the task of producing Geddie’s debut album, which features Nelly Furtado guitarist Mike Krompass, and Goo Goo Dolls guitarist Greg Suran.

Geddie’s intelligent, thought-provoking lyrics reveal stunning layers of her vulnerability, and are often re ective of relationships and transi- tions in her life. She says, “When I was seventeen I played a song for a girl who was a few years older than me, and she had to leave the room because she was crying. And I discovered that people can relate to my music, and I felt honored that someone really got my songs, that she was living inside of my words. I felt heard.”

Geddie’s signature style reveals itself in melodies and lyrics that often take unpredictable and surprising turns, riveting the listener with stun- ning depth, power, and beauty, haunting them for days and weeks to follow. Her songs range from the self-e acing “Fixing Me” where she wri- tes: “I’m trying to live and let be/ but I can’t control my thoughts./ I want to be true to you/ but the liar calls the shots./ I try to be everything that I know I want to be./ It feels like life is just one long road of xing me.” to playful lyrics of her generation in songs like “What we Lived For (The Starbucks Song)” where she croons: “We’d always drive our car to Starbucks.../ and we’d look for our fathers in 19 year olds.”

As for her rst record, Everything You Don’t See, she says, “I wanted to make a beautiful album. I have a wide variety of songs, and I wanted to keep the beauty theme running throughout. We added cello and chimes and piano. I wanted to make sure that the album stayed close to the way I wrote the songs on the acoustic guitar, organic, yet with all the added elements of the band.” The songs are at times slow and dark, at times riveting and raw. Her refreshing vulnerability takes us to a place where she is willing to courageously bare her naked psyche, like the album’s title suggests, letting listeners in on her most private emotions and thoughts.

The range we see from Geddie in her first album is both masterful and fresh, just like her performances, with a sense of consistency not usually seen in a debut record. With her rare combination of deep intelligence and stunning beauty, she has simultaneously created a classic sound that seems warm and familiar, and yet, is completely original, destined to win hearts from the get-go.