April 7, 2014

Krista Brenner: Sharing Her International Experiences to Help Other College Students

VALDOSTA-- The memory of her fiancé Zach Jones, who died in a car accident in October 2011, continues to inspire and motivate Krista Brenner.

Brenner, who grew up in Ontario, Canada, met Jones while they were both teaching English as a second language in Costa Rica, and after two years of living overseas, they moved to Georgia, where she began taking classes at Valdosta State University.

After graduation in May, Brenner plans to work one year with VSU’s English Language Institute, where she has worked as an incoming student coordinator and ESL instructor.

“I have been blessed to work in a position that allows me to help international students integrate into life in the U.S. and to help them transition from our program to being VSU students,” said Brenner, who is majoring in sociology.

As part of her academic requirements, she will also complete an internship and hopes to complete that in South Georgia.

“I have not made any final decisions about where I want to do my internship. I would love to be able to do it at Clyattville Elementary School, where my fiancé, Zach, was based as the parent/teacher liaison for Lowndes County,” said Brenner, who volunteered weekly at the school last year. “I would love being a part of that school and helping to continue Zach’s work in a community that needs it. My incredibly busy schedule does not allow me as much time to get out there as I would like, so I’m hoping my internship would allow me to get back out there and continue helping.”

In addition to her busy class schedule, Brenner finds time to be actively involved with the Society for International Students. She has assisted with many events, including the annual International Dinner, one of the university’s most popular student events, scheduled this year on March 29.

Brenner is a member of Alpha Kappa Delta, the sociology honor society, and Phi Kappa Phi national honor society, and received the 2014 Outstanding Sociology Student Award. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at VSU.

Meet Krista Brenner:

Hometown: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
High School and Year: Forest Heights Collegiate Institute, 2002
Expected Graduation: May 2014
Degree/Major: Sociology, minor in political science

I chose to attend VSU because… I met my fiancé, Zach Jones, who was a born and raised a Georgia boy, while we were both teaching English as a second language in Costa Rica. Once moving home after two years overseas, we decided that I would make the move here, and VSU was my first choice.  

My favorite faculty member is…. This is an incredibly hard question to answer because so many professors have been huge allies for me, but if I have to pick just one, it would be Dr. Thomas Hochschild. I have taken three sociology classes with him, and they are all unique, inspiring, and he really pushes students to develop a passion for learning, for service, for community, and for the betterment of society.  

My favorite class is… I would have to say either Self and Community Service with Dr. Hochschild or International Crime and Terrorism with Ms. Jennifer Holland.

My favorite part of VSU is… The smaller-sized campus and amazing architecture drew me here, and I have never regretted that choice. I appreciate having small classes where your professors actually know you and the work that you do, so you are not a faceless student in the crowd.

If I could spend an afternoon with anyone, I would spend it with…. My fiancé, Zach. We lost Zach in a car accident in October 2011, and life has never been the same. Every day is a constant struggle, so if I could spend an afternoon with anyone, it would be him.

Three words that describe me… 1) Motivated - I am extremely driven to succeed and aspire to do so in the best possible way. 2) Workaholic - All my family and friends will agree that I work too hard, too long, and too much, but I love it! 3) Caring - I will always put the needs of my family and friends above my own.

The biggest supporter in my life is… My family, both the one back in Canada and my Southern family here in the States. I would never be able to do what I do without their love and support.