Susan Staley, Founding Director
Susan spent her gap year in Chile as a Rotary International Youth Exchange Student, which 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. Taking advantage of transition periods before and after graduate school, she took a solo backpacking / working holiday in New Zealand and Australia, and a solo backpacking trip through Southeast Asia.
Susan began her professional career in international education 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 gap year students. Her experience taught her that international education is not one size fits all. In 2015, Susan founded Free to Roam Adventures to curate intentional gap 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 relentlessly pursue future goals. Susan continues to travel part-time as a consultant for faculty-led study abroad programs, where she shares her expertise of engaging students in reflective learning. Susan resides in Nashville, TN and is a member of the American Gap Association's advisory committee.