Volunteers & Volunteer Opportunities

Our volunteers assist the students and staff in countless ways. We welcome you to join our team of extraordinary volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact the Program Director, Michelle Duval via e-mail:  m.duval@live.com

At GPA, we are fortunate and grateful to have many volunteers who donate their time and talent to support our overall mission:

Amy AbuShanab started volunteering with GPA when she moved to Boston in 2016. She loves to help teach English as a form of empowerment and community engagement and previously spent a year teaching English in Palestine. In her spare time, Amy enjoys traveling, hiking, and playing piano. In her professional life, Amy is the Assistant Director at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University, working with a research team that helps shape policies, programs and practices which improve the lives of people with disabilities on community.

I’m Junia Albino, Brazilian, the youngest daughter of 9 from a traditional family in the interior, I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a postgraduate degree in Human Resources. After 15 years in the human resources area, I wasn’t happy and decided to look for what made sense to me and rediscover what I really loved. I moved to London and started working with children and families. I wrote a book for children and after almost 4 years I came to the USA to stay with my family. Here, together with the Garden Pilot Academy, I discovered that I didn’t need to be just one thing and doing all the things I love could be all my new professions. I won a scholarship thanks to Garden Pilot, I study business and entrepreneurship. My mission in life is to do what I like helping people. So… today I’m a Nanny for families with first children, personal organizer/assistant, life coach, Portuguese teacher and volunteer at Garden Pilot (this is my way of doing one more thing that I love and being able to thank what the school has done by me).

Terry Armstrong has a B.A. in Biology and has worked in healthcare clinical labs for 20 years. When she was younger, she lived in a house for international students for four years. It was a real education and led to an interest in politics and international affairs. Terry also had a lifelong interest in the middle east because her father worked there while she was young. Most recently, she has developed an interest in the Syrian refugee crisis and she was frustrated to sit by and unable to do something about it. She finally traveled to Greece and worked in a refugee camp for a month over the summer of 2017. When she came back she wanted to continue to help refugees and immigrants here in Boston and found the Adult Education Program at GPA did just that.

Melissa Banta works as a curator at Harvard University. Her specialty is historical photographs (Harvard has over 10 million of them). She also works at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. She writes about the history of the Cemetery, where many famous people were buried. She has three children and lives in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Evans Berreondo Giron recently graduated with a B.A. in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology alongside a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights from Harvard College. When he was merely 5 years old his family moved to Boston from Guatemala, meaning he experienced first-hand how difficult it is for immigrant households to get their footing and feel like they belong in a new country. Studying Ethnicity, Migration, and Rights during college gave him an even greater perspective into the lives and struggles of new immigrants not only in the United States, but all around the world. Given these experiences, he has always wanted to give back to the community that he grew up in. Through the GPA ESOL program he hopes to be able to help people who are going through difficulties such as those his family experienced throughout his childhood. He is incredibly excited to make people feel more connected to those around them by helping them acquire a stronger command of the English language. Furthermore, he hopes to be able to make an impact on and inspire the GPA ESOL students’ lives, whether that be in a big or small way.

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Danielle Gauthier is a veteran volunteer with GPA’s ESOL program. Throughout her college years, she volunteered at a local refugee center and following graduation, she taught English to middle school and high school students in Germany. Danielle now works at a consulting firm that partners with nonprofit organizations, and in her free time, enjoys traveling, reading, and hiking. Danielle is grateful for the chance to work with the dedicated students of GPA and help them in their English language learning.

Diane Gordon has volunteered at the ESOL program at Gardner Pilot since January 2017. She was motivated to work directly with immigrants because she wants to be the face of America that reflects who we really are as a country, and to help immigrants learn the skills they need to feel safe and to pursue their own goals in the United States. In her professional life, she has worked with community based nonprofit organizations for over 35 years as a leader, manager, and consultant.

Jamie Huang is a high school student who started volunteering after seeing their mother develop new skills in English as she attended GPA’s ESOL classes. While not at school, Jamie enjoys reading, journaling, and visual art. They hope to study sociology in college, and are interested in urban planning, labor history, and live music. They consider the time spent with their ESOL students extremely fulfilling and exciting as they acquire greater ease in communication.

Sophia Lalli is a Speech-Language Pathologist at Spaulding Rehab Hospital and a new Boston resident! Language and travel have always been very important in her life. She grew up in the Greek-American community where she founded a love for culture and tradition. She received a certificate in International Studies during her undergraduate career. Joining GPA as a volunteer has been a blessing to combine her background and interests, while having the chance to meet wonderful people. She is inspired by your commitment to learning and ready to help in any way she can. Thank you for welcoming Sophia to the GPA community!

Joanna Lin is a founder, changemaker, and junior at Boston Latin School. Passionate about the intersection of graphic design, social entrepreneurship, journalism, and immigration policy, Joanna is an active community organizer within the Boston Mayor’s Youth Council, her school newspaper, and nonprofit yCITIES. She came to GPA ESOL after her father joined the program to study English. As a child of immigrants, she hopes to make resources to survive and to thrive in America easier to access than when her parents came. In her free time, you can find her making short historical documentaries, playing some friendly neighborhood basketball, or listening to NPR.

John Merfeld is a first-year volunteer at GPA. He grew up in Madison, Wisconsin but has lived in Boston since 2013. John is motivated to work with immigrant communities by his belief that America (and particularly Boston) should be a place of welcoming, openness, and opportunity. From 9 to 5 he works at a local cybersecurity startup, and otherwise enjoys creative pursuits such as making music, writing about science, and drawing large maps.

Keishi Nambara is a 1st year volunteer at GPA’s ESOL program. Since education in Boston has tremendously helped him facilitate his growth, he hopes to give back to his community through tutoring. Keishi is originally from Okinawa, Japan, and he graduated from Northeastern University in 2018 with a B.S. in biology. He currently works as a clinical research coordinator at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. In his spare time, he loves to play the piano, exercise at his local gym, and learn Spanish.

Alyssa Rocha is a 1st year volunteer with the Gardner Pilot Academy’s ESOL program. She taught freshman Biology and Genetics as a teaching assistant throughout college and graduated with a bachelor’s in Biology in 2021.  Alyssa grew up in a primarily Spanish speaking area of south Texas and was inspired to help others learn English. In her free time, she likes to play music, hike, read, and bake. Currently, Alyssa works as a research technician for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and periodically volunteers with the Jimmy Fund. She is happy to have found the opportunity to be involved within her community and looks forward to helping others gain confidence with a new language.

Jason Shi: My name is Jason and I am a sophomore at Boston University studying Cellular Molecular Biology and Genetics. In my free time, I enjoy sketching, basketball, and video games. I was inspired to be a volunteer at GPA because of my immigrant mom. Even though she raised my siblings and I in the United States for many years, my mom never had a good grasp of the English language. I want to help others like my mom to break their language barrier so they can become more independent, social, and engage in new opportunities.

Reshma Subramonian is an undergraduate student studying Biology at Boston University. She grew up in India for most of her life, originally being very reliant on friends to help her communicate in the local language. After spending a lot of time in tuition and later tutoring English to others, she found herself passionate about learning and teaching languages. She hopes to help others find the words that they need to express themselves as well and gain the confidence to feel comfortable in their environment. Other than university work, she also spends her time doing translation, listening to podcasts and reading.

Su Tran is an undergraduate student studying Biochemistry at Boston University. I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the US when I was six years old. Growing up in an immigrant family surrounded by others like us, I admired the resilience and strength in the adults around. I recognizes that using and understanding English is a very advantageous skill to have, and loves that GPA’s ESOL program is providing an accessible way for everyone to learn the language. I hope to be supportive and encouraging during my time at GPA so that the students are more confident and comfortable with English.

Hermelinda Zegarra is from Chaclacayo, Peru. After my daughter enrolled college I decide to became a volunteer at Gardner pilot academy ESOL program. I was a student years ago in this program. I really enjoy assisting the teacher and students in class and seeing how the students after a long day of hard work come to classes eager to learn English. My hobbies included embroidering, knitting,cooking, and gardening.

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