Susan Staley, Founding Director

After high school, Susan spent her gap year living on a farm in the Central Valley of Chile, an experience which instilled in her a passion for learning, an insatiable cultural curiosity, and a strong sense of courage and independence. As an undergraduate student she was awarded a Center for Global Health Scholarship, an experience which allowed her to conduct independent research in Northeastern Brazil, utilizing contacts she developed on her own. During college she took a gap semester to study abroad at Peking University in Beijing, China. 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, and later directing a multi-country study abroad program in Europe. She has supported over 200 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, building toilets in rural Cambodia, and backpacking throughout Europe alongside gap year and undergraduate students.

In 2015, Susan founded Free to Roam Adventures to curate intentional gap and study abroad experiences customized to meet the goals of clients. She enjoys working closely with individuals and institutions to curate experiences that challenge them and equip them with the confidence and motivation to pursue their goals. Susan continues to travel regularly as an adjunct faculty and director for Northwood University's Semester in Europe program, as well as vetting potential gap year opportunities. She is a member of the Gap Year Association's Advisory Board and a L.E.A.D Girl Scout Troop Leader. When not traveling overseas, she enjoys exploring wilderness areas around the United States, from the Appalachian Mountains of her native Southwest Virginia to the deserts of the Southwest and beyond. Susan resides in Nashville, TN.

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(615) 219-9043 /

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