Madrid Alumni Updates

You are here

Updates received Spring 2016

Nancy Nau Sullivan, 1965-66 - Since leaving New York on the Nieuw Amsterdam in the summer of 1965, headed for study in Madrid, life has been full steam ahead for Nancy Nau Sullivan. “I think of those five days on the ship with my fellow IES students, of our landing in Rotterdam, our trip by train through the Netherlands and France down to Madrid, and how we never slept, but laughed and ate chocolate and bread and went to the flea markets. There were about a dozen in that group who spent a year at the University of Madrid under the auspices of IES…We became madrileños and found a new love of language and travel.” Nancy ended up with a double major in Spanish and Political Science, and pursuing a bent for journalism, went to New York after graduation to work in editorial in books and magazines. Years later, after earning a master's degree in journalism from Marquette University, Nancy spent 15 years as a writer and editor at newspapers throughout the Midwest. In the late 1990s, Nancy began teaching and taught at a boys' prison in Florida. Her knowledge of Spanish brought her to Argentina where she taught English K-12, and mostly recently, to Mexico in the Peace Corps to teach English to university graduates. With a love of Spain, Nancy encouraged her son to study in Caceres a few years ago where he learned the language, and fell in love. He and Spanish beauty Sara have twin Irish-Spanish boys now. Nancy is planning to get back to Spain to her extended family in Badajoz soon. But presently, she’s writing, full-time and anticipating the launch of my first book, THE LAST CADILLAC: A MEMOIR in April 2016 by Amphorae Publishing Group-- a story about the years she cared for my father while raising two young kids on an island in Florida. She will have signings in the Chicagoland area and would love to see fellow IES Abroad alumni there. Visit for coming events.

Pouneh Eftekhari, 2005 Fall - After two study abroad experiences (IES Madrid in 2005 being the life-changing experience) and graduation quickly approaching, Pouneh was faced with the choice of following her head ('get a job after college’) or following her heart (‘seeing the world'). Not ready to give up ‘the dream’, Pouneh reflected, researched and networked her way from serial-travel addict to a competent professional in the field of international education and meaningful travel. Since then, she has earned a master's degree in Europe, worked in universities in six countries, traveled in 23 others, taught English in Turkey.

Michelle Lukiman, Spring 2010 - Six years later, Spain still doesn’t disappoint. Michelle recently gave the IES Abroad Madrid family huge hugs while in town for the Madrid International Film Festival, where a short film she acted in and co-produced landed several nominations. After stuttering through Aurora Pastor’s stupendous Spanish improv course with IES Abroad Madrid in 2010, Michelle graduated from Amherst College with a BA in English and Theater & Dance and has continued with acting and much more in Los Angeles. As an actress, teacher, coordinator, traveler and more, she has kept her Spanish with her and seen it open countless doors and friendships. And she still can’t stop talking about Spain.

Updates received Spring 2015

Joseph McArthur, 1986-87 - Joseph graduated from Luther College in Decorah, IA in 1988 with a B.A. in Spanish and also earned an International Studies Certificate.  In 1992, he earned an M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College which had him in Madrid for the 1991-92 academic year. Then he spent three years teaching beginning and intermediate Spanish at Luther College.  Joseph went on to spend time working in a middle school ESL program, and worked as an interpreter in a community health center, and for an independent contractor for a short time. Then he began a career in federal law enforcement and spent six years as an Immigration Inspector at the Port of Entry in Calexico, CA. (1996-2002). From 2002 to the present I have been with the INS and one of its successor agencies (CBP) within DHS as a Senior Immigration Inspector/ CBP Enforcement Officer. “I have had numerous opportunities to travel abroad, both professionally and personally. I owe all of the success and lessons learned to the year with IES Abroad in Madrid. Gracias!!!!”

Andrew Yandell, 2009 Fall - Andrew fell in love with Spain in Madrid.  Five years of savings later, he started his own company to share his passion for Spanish culture.  Andrew imports and distributes natural Spanish wine in California as Trumpet Wine. Business is going well, and he get to go back and visit often.  He says “There's a new generation of young Spaniards working to recover their grandparent's culture of food and wine, el pueblo español never ceases to amaze and excite.”

Updates received Fall 2014

Monica Toporkiewicz, 1999 Spring (Vienna, Fall 1998) - Monica completed a master’s degree at The George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. Currently, she is an International Trade Specialist with the U.S. Department of Commerce – based in the U.S. Commercial Service Chicago office. Their mission is to help U.S. companies export by providing counseling; world class market research; and introductions to qualified buyers and distributors. Monica has not been back to Spain since studying abroad, but met her best friend at IES Abroad Madrid, and they vicariously live through each other's travel adventures.

Jessica McClenny, 2010 SpringJessica is a special education teacher to a class of 6-8 graders with moderate to severe disabilities. She studied abroad in Madrid to participate in the language immersion program. She uses Spanish most days in her classroom and is able to more effectively communicate with parents thanks to her studies and participation in the Madrid program. People are always surprised that she speaks Spanish, and Jessica loves getting to tell them that she studied abroad.

Updates received Fall 2013

Tracey Gostyla, 1993 Fall – Tracy graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 1999.  After working at a large law form for 2.5 years and the Harris County District Attorney's Office for four years, she moved to Washington, DC, to work for the U.S. Department of Justice.  She currently prosecutes tax and white collar criminal cases on behalf of the United States. She loves to travel internationally in her spare time.  Her most recent trip was her honeymoon in Cambodia.

Caitlin Blomquist, 2005 Spring –  Caitlin received her Master of Education in Student Development Administration from Seattle University in June of 2013, and is now working as an Academic Program Manager at the Evans School of Public Affairs at the University of Washington in Seattle. She returned to Madrid in 2008 for a visit, and would love to go back again!

Updates received Spring 2013

Colleen Kelly Altendorf, 1981-82 Fall/Spring – Coleen lives in San Jose, CA.

Heather Scott-Molleda, 1984-85 Fall/Spring – After graduation Heather wanted to go abroad again and found a job not in Spain but in Venezuela.  She intended to stay for one or two years, but stayed for 10! Heather married a Spaniard and has two children. She returned to the Washington area to continue her profession but has been back to Spain many times. Heather’s son did a semester abroad in Madrid in Spring 2012 and the Center Director was the same one who ran the IES program when Heather attended! She hopes her daughter will have her chance to study abroad soon.

Cecilia Olivares, 1998 Fall – Cecilia is Director for the Center for Academic Retention & Enrichment Services at the University of Memphis.

Updates received Winter 2012-13

Annette Fajardo, 1978 Spring – Annette and her roommate in Spain, Patti Toner Dempsey, Madrid Spring 1978, went to Madrid in January 2013, for the first time in 35 years and met with Elvira Muñoz, the IES Center Director in Madrid.  “Madrid had a ‘facelift’ since we were there and it was FANTASTIC.”  Together, they went back to all of their old haunts and many of the sites they did not go to when they lived in Spain. Both Patti and Annette are avid travelers. Since studying with IES Abroad they have never stopped traveling, learning and seeing new countries.

Edgar Bandera, 1997 Spring – Edgar is living and loving life in Los Angeles, CA and is still traveling as much as he can.

Updates recieved Spring/Summer 2012

Mary Knuth, 1968-69 Fall/Spring - Mary has worked as a clinical social worker in mental health for 35 years and used the Spanish she learned in Spain in every job she’s had working with people from many different Spanish speaking countries.

Patricia Toner Dempsey, 1977-78 Fall/Spring - Patricia has been working in a job that entails travel and remodeling an old ranch house. She’s taking all her creative forays around the globe and making them an integral part of her architectural designs. She’s bringing to life the ideal and dream of downsizing so as to have the time and resources to ......TRAVEL!   Kelly Clark, 1992 Spring - Kelly and Colin Dunnigan, Madrid Spring 1992, met up with their families in Grand Rapids, MI, in December 2011. Kelly is a teacher and administrator for Traverse City Area Public Schools in MI. Colin is director of development at The Miami Valley School in Dayton, OH.   Hampton Watson, 2011 Spring - Hampton graduated from Yale University in the spring of 2012 with a degree in Political Science.   Peter Richard, 2011 Spring - Peter is at home working as a lifeguard while he searches for a job and will be a volunteer assistant coach with his high school’s cross country team. He has started playing guitar again and decided to start running marathons.