Leader Bios: Meet Julia, Julian, Kiana & Aaron!

Julia Beck – Costa Rica Language & Service

Say hola, olá, and nǐ hǎo to Julia Beck! A senior at Middlebury College, Julia has a love for learning languages, demonstrated by her Spanish major, Education Studies minor, and coursework in Portuguese and Mandarin. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Julia was excited to leave city life for rural Vermont where she makes the most of her setting, creating art through numerous mediums, reading (especially her favorite, Harry Potter!), and hiking through the scenic Green Mountains. Prior to her time at Middlebury College, Julia participated in a month-long service and language trip to Panama and two Habitat for Humanity trips to Romania and Cambodia. Julia also took a gap semester before college and spent three months traveling through Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Peru, and has since spent a semester abroad living, studying, and working in Uruguay. In Uruguay, Julia’s language and cultural immersion program studied Latin American History, contemporary culture, and Spanish language, and she also served as an English TA for grades 1-12 at a school in Montevideo. However, her travel resume doesn’t end there – Julia has solo-traveled through Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Spain, and England, took part in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Puerto Rico, and spent a summer as a Coordinator and Communications Intern for The Sacred Valley Project in Peru. Back on campus, Julia plays on the ultimate frisbee and Quidditch teams (yes… that’s a real team!), and also leads pre-orientation trips for incoming Middlebury students. Above all else, Julia values people and looks forward to creating memories of a lifetime with her students on Costa Rica Language & Service this summer!

Julian Ramirez – Costa Rica Language & Service

Apogee is excited to welcome Julian Ramirez to the team to lead our Costa Rica Language & Service trips this summer! A rising junior at Washington & Lee, Julian has managed to incorporate his numerous and wide-ranging passions into his daily life on campus. Julian loves meeting new people and sharing his knowledge of W&L with prospective students and families as a campus tour guide, but walking backwards isn’t his only hidden talent. Julian is a music aficionado; he plays the saxophone and hosts a weekly radio hour for a local station, treating listeners to a medley of bluegrass tunes on Monday evenings. When he isn’t working towards his English major or taking classes to perfect his español, Julian is an active member of the Washington & Lee Outing Club and guides incoming freshmen on a week-long backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail, teaching them the necessary hard skills and also supporting them through a major crossroads in life. It should come as no surprise that Julian was drawn to the outdoor community after enjoying numerous backpacking trips as a Venture Scout in highschool, exploring remote parts of North Carolina and even taking an 11 day trip through the deep woods of New Mexico. The last two summers, Julian has worked in roles of increasing responsibility as a counselor at a day camp for 5th-9th graders, and has also found time to travel to Spain and Cuba, providing him an opportunity to explore his Cuban heritage. After growing up in the small town of Davidson, NC, Julian has grown to value the sense of connectedness and support a tight-knit community can offer, and he can’t wait to create this for his students this summer!

Kiana Tsao – Caribbean Service

New to the Apogee team in 2019, and true to her Californian roots, Kiana Tsao spent her entire 21st year of life in perpetual summertime, because it’s her favorite season! It seems like a perfect fit, then, that she’ll be heading down to sunny Puerto Rico this summer to lead our Caribbean Service trips. Kiana gets a good dose of summery sunshine as a rising senior at Colorado College, too, where she studies Environmental Policy. She is a passionate adventurer, juggling her love for travel and learning about new cultures, all with the common thread of a strong commitment to environmental stewardship. Kiana’s travels have taken her around the world to places like Ladakhm, India, where she interviewed nomadic communities, and Wellington, New Zealand where she researched environmental legislation and Maori customs. Over the last four years, Kiana’s sense of groundedness in the wild grew as she developed her own outdoor skills, and she discovered a love for guiding others on their own outdoor journeys. Kiana has put those skills to work as a teacher and naturalist with the Audubon Society in California, an outdoor leadership mentor, and a leader and instructor with Colorado College Outdoor Recreation program. We know Kiana’s warmth and passion for making the world a better place will translate flawlessly into cultivating meaningful experiences between her students and the communities they will be working with in Puerto Rico this summer!

Aaron Cranston – Caribbean Service

Aaron Cranston is a rising senior at Wesleyan University and enthusiastically joins the Apogee team this summer as one of our two Caribbean Service leaders! Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, Aaron was the oldest of three siblings (not including his dog, Jojo) and tried his hand at almost any sport you can imagine. Aaron was a three-sport varsity athlete in high school, and he continued to wrestle as a Wesleyan Cardinal. In true Apogee fashion, Aaron looks for any excuse to get outside and enjoys a laundry list of sports and outdoor activities. To name a few, he loves playing intramural softball and club soccer at school, and he never misses a chance to hike, snowboard, or play golf. When he’s not on the field or in the woods, you might find Aaron putting in long hours at the library working on his History degree, where he focuses specifically on International Relations. Aaron’s passion for working with youth in the outdoors stems in part from his positive experiences in various outdoor adventure programs as a high schooler; in addition to taking part in a two-week backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevadas, Aaron jumped at the opportunity to lead a five-day hiking trip along the Appalachian Trail for incoming freshman. He’s also worked as a language tutor to help low-income students prepare for the SAT, spent a summer in college as a sports camp counselor, and served as a wrestling instructor. We are psyched to have Aaron join the team this summer down in Puerto Rico!