Alumni Spotlight

Check out the great work from our alumni!

Meet Chris

Christopher “Chris” Doney was an accelerated student who began taking high-school-level Chinese language classes at GaVS in 2016. He had a dream of becoming a foreign-exchange student in Taiwan and worked diligently toward that goal. I recognized Chris’s dedication to learning Chinese and invited him to many local Chinese cultural events such as a Qipao performance, the Dragonboat festival, the Mid-Autumn festival, and Chinese-language speech competitions. 

Chris was awarded a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship to study at Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for an academic year in 2019. He was just 15 years old at the time! While in Taiwan, Chris applied to international colleges and universities, and he had full-ride offers from New York University - Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) in the UAE and Yale University NUS in Singapore. He ultimately chose NYUAD and began studying there until the pandemic forced classes to be taught remotely. 
Not desiring to remain at home, Chris decided to travel to Dushanbe, Tajikistan and take his remote classes there. While there, he saw an ardent desire among Tajik students and Afghan refugees to learn English, so he collaborated with the government of Tajikistan and opened an American language center.

After teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) for a year, Chris interned for a year at American Space Dushanbe, a free outreach program where he taught classes on SAT/ACT prep, college prep, and TOEFL prep. He also hosted a discussion club and a Kahoot! club where he interacted with students while helping them learn about American culture while working on their English-conversation skills. 

In December 2022, Chris graduated summa cum laude (4.0 GPA) with a BA in Liberal Arts with a minor in English, and this December, he will graduate with an MA in English with a concentration in writing and linguistics and with TESOL certification. He is currently applying for a Fulbright scholarship to Uzbekistan and to Linguistics PhD programs. 
In looking back on his time at GaVS, Chris stated that he credits much of his success to interest, encouragement, and dedication and his GaVS teachers.