An ACU couple is packing their bags for a new chapter in their lives. Alison and Nathan Spencer are wrapping up their last few days of work on campus before heading to Japan.
Alison Spencer, academic coordinator for the Honors College, won the Japanese Exchange Teaching (JET) award and will move to Japan with her husband by the end of July. Nathan Spencer served as an admissions counselor for three years and plans to continue recruiting for ACU in Japan and other parts of East Asia.
Through the JET award, which is provided by the Japanese government, Alison received a paid position teaching English at a Japanese school. The Japanese government started the program to encourage international exchange with English-speaking countries.
“They’re looking for people who are going to be really engaged with the youth and the culture,” Spencer said.
Sarah Winkler, a 2016 Master’s in Counseling Psychology graduate, will take Spencer’s position with a new title: academic manager and budget director. Winkler was in the Honors College before she earned her undergraduate degree in psychology in 2014.
“Talking to someone who’s actually done what you’re doing is a really distinct advantage,” Winkler said. “My background in helping professions can help me see past a student’s schedule.”
Winkler started July 6 working with Spencer until Spencer’s last day July 15. A goodbye reception for both Spencers hosted by Honors College coordinator Krista Toten took place in the Zellner lobby Thursday at 2 p.m.
Alison Spencer earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and two master’s degrees at ACU in psychology and higher education. She applied for the JET award with help from Jason Morris, dean of the Honors College and director of the Office of Major Scholarships.
“We’re excited that Alison has accomplished this great achievement but she will be really missed in our college as well,” Morris said.
Spencer said she and her husband both enjoy travel and wanted to experience the culture of Japan. Through the JET program they will receive help setting up bank accounts, cell phones and other everyday needs. The couple also has connections to alumni who live in Japan.
“There’s also some cultural arts that we’re excited about digging into like cooking classes,” Spencer said.
Spencer said she hopes to one day work in a higher education study abroad program or international education. She said she will miss the interactions with students she had as an academic coordinator.
“I really enjoyed playing that small part in their lives and helping them figure out a future,” Spencer said.