Alumna Profile: Briana (Asmus) Barnett
Briana (Asmus) Barnett graduated from Aquinas in 2005 with her Bachelor of Arts in English Education, and since then has traveled the world teaching students English. Barnett initially visited Aquinas on a promise to her mother, AQ alumna Mary Jo Asmus, and promptly realized it was where she belonged.
“I wanted to attend Aquinas because I was inspired by the sense of community there,” Barnett said. “The first time I visited, every person I talked to on campus was so kind and encouraged me to become involved. They quickly accepted me as part of that community.”
During her time at Aquinas, Barnett was involved in Student Senate, the Student Ambassador Program, was President of the Literary Honors Society, and won Homecoming Queen her senior year. She also got her first experience abroad through the service learning trip in El Salvador, which inspired future trips, including another service experience last summer.
After graduation, Barnett took her degree and traveled to South Korea and Japan to teach English as a second language (ESL) at public schools. Her first teaching experience was in Seoul, where she taught in a public, open-air school on top of a mountain.
“The job was very challenging, but so fulfilling,” Barnett said. “I got the chance to travel all over Korea, to fishing communities along the coast and to the Demarcation Line at the border with North Korea.”
Barnett then traveled to Tokyo where she taught ESL at Kokugakuin University. During her time overseas, Barnett also took part in various dance lessons and learned hip-hop while in Korea, and ballet while in Japan. Since her return to Michigan, Barnett earned her Master in English Education from Western Michigan University (WMU) in 2009, and is currently working toward her Ph.D. in English Education at WMU.
“[I want] to work with teachers to improve the quality of education in this country,” Barnett said. “I believe this is more important now than ever.”
Barnett hopes to publish her dissertation as a book after completing her Ph.D. and address the educational needs of ESL students, and how their teachers can meet those needs. She would like to one day return to Aquinas as a professor of higher education.
“I actually think that none of these things would have been possible without Aquinas,” Barnett said. “Aquinas gave me the confidence I needed to stand before my students and believe that not only can I teach them, I can inspire them to become better people."