9 to 5: Amelia and Arielle – From Big Cities and Back to NH

Amelia Perri and Arielle Mercier are two coworkers at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School who are very passionate about their jobs and eager to get the word out about what they do. Their stories differ, but both are quite inspiring.13412009_2641946762957_3740505007792509550_o


Q: Where did you grow up?

A: Farmington, CT

Q: Where did you attend college/what did you study?

A: Penn State University. University Park, PA. Secondary Social Studies Education. Minor in History

Q: How did you end up at your job?

A: After I graduated college and worked in NYC for a year I came to a quick decision that I needed to travel abroad and immerse myself in other cultures. After spending years studying about foreign countries and rich histories, it was time to see them for myself. I bought a one way ticket to Europe and spent the next three years running an English language summer camp in Croatia, teaching English in Italy and Thailand, and backpacking during holidays and weekends. I immediately fell in love with teaching English and learning about other cultures. However, as the years passed, my sisters started to have babies and the internal pull for security became more frequent. I was at a crossroads on whether to continue my nomadic lifestyle or return to America and create a life there. I decided that taking on a teaching job in the States would align with my life values and goals – I could continue my passion of teaching, be close to my family, and use the school vacations to travel. By chance I found a job posting for an ESL teacher in the town next to where my oldest sister lived, Portsmouth, and applied for it. In a whirlwind two weeks, I flew home, interviewed, landed the job, and went down to New York for training. I have been with UTP High Schools and teaching at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School in Dover since August of 2015 and have loved every day working there.

Q: What do you love about your job?

A: Job fulfillment for me is key. Being the Language Foundation Teacher at Saint Thomas Aquinas has offered me the chance to combine all of my passions: teaching, foreign cultures, and travel. The students in my classrooms come from all different backgrounds and I make it a point for them all to share their own anecdotes, experiences, and traditions. Being in a foreign country is about cultural exchange – from both sides. It is important to learn and embrace the values and culture of where you are staying, but also share some of yours. This exchange creates open-minded, educated, and global individuals who see the world as one. I look forward to going to work every day – unfortunately that has become something rare in today’s world so I find myself very lucky.

Q: What is a typical day like for you at work?

A: I arrive at the school at 7am to finish last minute preparations for a lesson or to get some grading done. Then I teach between 4-5 classes out of the 6 period school day – depending on the rotating block schedule. I teach ESL levels 1, 2, 3 for grades 9-12. During my off periods I either meet with students, grade, or offer any help to the office staff.

Q: Why did you chose to stay in New Hampshire and work here?

A: I grew up in New England and it will always be my home. I spent my childhood and teenage years vacationing in Rhode Island and on the CT shoreline. My oldest sister moved to NH for college and stayed in Portsmouth ever since. When I returned from traveling I did not want to move back to Connecticut but knew I wanted to stay in New England so New Hampshire was the next logical choice. Family is everything to me – so being able to live in a state that is filled with entertainment and work at a job I love, all while being very close to my family members has completed the full trifecta of happiness.

AmeliaPeQ: What would you say to millennials about staying and working in New Hampshire?

A: There is immense opportunity to work and succeed in New Hampshire. Whether you are aiming at entering fields of hospitality, education, technology, or marketing, there is a chance to thrive. New Hampshire is one of those rare states that offers both small local organizations and large national companies – allowing you to choose a career path most suited and comfortable for you.

Q: Why do you love New Hampshire/what do you do for fun here?

A: I have lived in many countries and in many states across the US, yet New Hampshire is by far one of my favorites. New Hampshire has the best of all worlds: beaches, mountains, forest, and farm. Big cities, small towns. I especially love living in Portsmouth because I am 2 hours away from some of the best skiing, and I live right on the beach. For fun, I really enjoy running, doing yoga, paddle boarding, hiking, skiing, and listening to live music – all of which New Hampshire is the perfect setting for. My ideal summer day is yoga at my local studio in the morning, followed by a cup of house roasted coffee in town. Then paddle boarding at the beach before watching a live concert in Prescott Park.

Q: Are you currently hiring?

A: The best thing about being a smaller and relatively new company is that there is so much room for growth. UTP is currently partnered with five schools across the US and is hoping to partner with 5 more. Structure growth is the goal and it is imminent. 

Q: What is some more advice would you give to recent grads?

A: Travel. Explore. Discover. Learn. Although graduating may be terrifying as you enter a world unknown and leave your safety net of college, know that your life is not over – it is just beginning! Also know that who you are is not final. You are still growing as a person, learning who you wish to become and what you wish to achieve. It is important to have confidence yet never arrogance. You do not know everything so stay humble. If you fail, find the lesson that needs to be learned and move forward. If you are scared, know that everyone else is as unsure as you are. If you are not sure what career path to take, experiment with different fields to see which one fills your soul. Lastly, stay positive – the energy you put out in the world is the same that you receive.


Q: Where did you grow up?

A: I grew up in Derry, NH, and lived there until I went to college. I love Derry–it’s very nostalgic for me now. I went to Pinkerton Academy for high school, and as you probably know it’s one of the biggest high schools I know of–so it definitely prepared me for any challenge involving being around lots of new people.

Q: Where did you attend college/what did you study?

A: I attended college at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA right on the Fenway. I started out studying International Relations–the inherent bug inside of me that was always curious about other cultures. After my first Political Science class I realized that wasn’t for me, so I turned to Sociology, specifically topics of deviance, and found a home there. On top of studying Sociology, I took a good amount of Psychology courses and focused on volunteering and working with the youth in the area.1606_UTP_010

Q: What do you love about your job?

A: My job really came to me at the perfect time, the universe was ready to give me the job of my dreams! I was working at Southern New Hampshire University in the College of Online and Continuing Education, as an Admission Counselor, and had been in the same role for two years. I had recently moved to Portsmouth and thought that change would change my outlook on what I was doing–that I was REALLY helping people like I used to in volunteering. However that feeling didn’t come back to me, so I set out to find it again. I found a job posted online that looked like something I wanted to do–it involved working on-site at a high school, working with international students–right there I was hooked. When I received an interview, I was ecstatic. I honestly can say that in this interview I was the most myself that I have ever been at any job interview–it just felt like I had found my ‘place’. About a week after the interview I was offered the job and jumped at the opportunity.

Q: What is a typical day like for you at work?

A: I love that I wake up every day and am excited to get to work. I love the community feel–we’re a small company, about 40 employees total around the globe. I also genuinely really like everyone that I work with–which is something rare. I also love the trust that is given to each employee. For instance, I work in New Hampshire, and so do 3 others with this company. We’re trusted to do the right thing, to not be micromanaged, and our opinions are valued and genuinely taken into consideration.

That’s another thing I love about this job–there is no “typical” day for us. Every day brings a new task, a new challenge, and at 2:30 when the final school bell rings, all the students come rushing into the office in a craze to talk about what they need or want, and I can’t help but smile because they keep me on my toes.

Q: Why did you chose to stay in New Hampshire and work here?

A: I chose to stay here because I love the small-town feel of NH, especially after living in Boston for a few years of school. I love that when I am walking down the street, people smile back at you. I love that I can go to my favorite coffee shops and be recognized and my order remembered. It’s a warm feeling.

Q: What would you say to millennials about staying and working in New Hampshire?

A: To millennials in NH–there is hope! I waited through years and years of “failed jobs” or “not the right fit for me” jobs until I found the one. It’s a little bit like dating–but for millennials dating is now so simple and streamlined that we’ve lost touch, we want the instant gratification with the likes of dating apps–but we have to be patient, slow down, enjoy everything, learn from your experiences and really listen and be true to yourself and what you want.

Q: Why do you love New Hampshire/what do you do for fun?

A: I love New Hampshire because it’s who I am–and because of our four beautiful seasons. This is what draws our international students to NH, too, the natural beauty of it. I love to travel as well, but NH is home. I love doing yoga and barre, kayaking, trying new restaurants (the Seacoast has some of the best food!), and exploring the vast music and art scene in the area.

Q: Are you currently hiring?

A: We are currently hiring for one position in NH! An ESL Teacher in Nashua, NH. If you’re interested you can e-mail: careers@utphighschools.com. We are growing and positions become available all the time, so follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) and check out our website at www.utphighschools.com for further opportunities. Not only are we hiring, but if you want to be a part of this experience, but you already have a job that you love–we’re also always looking for safe and supportive host families for our international students! If you’re interested in that, you can e-mail me directly at arielle@utphighschools.com! Either way–the support you will feel as an employee or a host is unmatched.

Q: What is some more advice would you give to recent grads?

A: Advice to recent grads has to be to be yourself in your interviews, don’t settle, and trust your gut. Use your resources in this awesome community that we live in, too! Network, network, network! That person sitting next to you at the coffee shop or on the bus or at your gym may be doing exactly what you want to be doing, and maybe they want to help you!

Do you or someone you know work for an exciting New Hampshire company or organization and want to be featured in the SWP blog? Email 9to5@stayworkplay.org!

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