Headshot 10.jpeg

Susan Staley, Founding Director

Susan spent her gap year between high school and university as a Rotary International Youth Exchange Student in Chile. Her gap year instilled in her a renewed sense of focus and academic confidence, as well as an insatiable cultural curiosity. As an undergraduate student she studied abroad in China and performed independent research in Brazil. Susan earned a bachelors degree in Latin American Studies and Spanish from the University of Virginia and a masters in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

Susan began her professional career in international education in 2012 leading summer and gap semester programs in Asia and Latin America, supporting over 150 students through the process of self-discovery through international education. She honed her skills as a facilitator of cultural learning, educator, and mentor while trekking through the Himalayas, snorkeling in the Galapagos, and building toilets in rural Cambodia alongside students. Her experience taught her, among many things, that international education is not one size fits all. 

In 2015, Susan founded Free to Roam Adventures to curate intentional gap year and study abroad experiences customized to meet the goals of individual clients. She enjoys working closely with clients to curate once in a lifetime experiences that challenge them and equip them with the confidence and motivation to pursue their goals. Susan continues to travel with student groups, where she shares her expertise of engaging students in reflective learning and continually refreshes her database of international opportunities for her clients. Susan resides in Nashville, TN and is a member of the Gap Year Association's advisory committee.



Free to Roam Adventures is committed to upholding high standards of ethics and integrity in all of our work.

  • Free to Roam Adventures welcomes all people regardless of age, disability, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.

  • We do not accept commissions from any programs.

  • In our vetting process we evaluate volunteer programs to ensure ethical engagement with local communities and environments. This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring volunteer projects are community driven, beneficial, and that benefits are shared.

  • We do not recommend programs that may put vulnerable populations at risk, such as orphanage volunteering.