Alumni Community

Ambassador of the Year 2019

Each year, GLA has the pleasure of working with a group of alumni who act as Ambassadors for the academic year following their programs. This year, a community of 149 alumni committed to duties of Ambassadorship, inspiring their home communities all over the United States and around the world with passion for service and cultural exchange.

A committee selects one Ambassdor per year who has gone above and beyond in their duties and in demonstrating GLA’s values. 

Ambassador of the Year

Jake Haven, high school junior  and two-time GLA alum, has snagged the title for the 2018-19 year. He was selected for his innovation, dedication, and overall good nature. Plus, he's a pretty funny guy!

Jake is what you might call an extreme animal lover--his family home in Naples, Florida, is home to eight geckoes, a chameleon, one dog, a handful of fish...and a whopping 150 snakes. Some are beloved family pets, like Shakira, a gorgeous and sneaky favorite; others are a part of Jake's business. (We'll get to that later!) 

Jake is currently preparing to embark on not one, but two programs with GLA this summer--he’ll be starting out his adventure in Thailand, then wrapping up with a ten-day Costa Rica experience.

Jake! Congrats on the win--you had some stiff competition for Ambassador of the Year! What’s your secret?

I remember other students/ GLA Ambassadors helping lead group chats and answering questions for those just joining. It definitely helped put me and my family at ease going into this adventure. I wanted to do the same for other families.

In your application, you talked a lot about personal growth. Tell us more! 

When I first went to Peru, I was a nervous, shy 15 year old. I had just completed my freshman year in high school. I was very nervous about traveling alone internationally, meeting other students, making meaningful relationships all while getting exposed to a new language, culture, and other challenges that I had not faced yet in my life.

Each adventure is unique in its own way, and I chose a new challenge and a new part of the world in 2018 when I went to Tanzania. This time, I had more confidence, and was looking forward to my adventure. I was still nervous, but had one GLA trip under my belt, and was looking to grow as an individual while contributing more to the group. After two years with GLA, I have seen myself grow. I have seen myself mature all while helping others, bonding with fellow students in different areas of our world. It has been really exciting to look back and see the changes, at how my outlook and confidence has changed and grown as aresult.

Can you spot the AotY?

What brought you to GLA in the first place?

Before GLA, I spent my summers as many teenagers do: I spent time at home. I did some local activities and I went to a great sleep away camp for three weeks. We swam, we sang, we kayaked, we camped. I enjoyed it very much and went back for a second time; however, the second year was very much like the first. I did the same activities. I met similar or the same people and although I had fun again, I’m not sure I grew much more as a person. I realized that I wanted to try something new. I just didn’t know what.

Once I started ninth grade, my parents and I looked for a summer program that was different. I didn’t really know what I was looking for at the time. I was a shy, somewhat insecure ninth grader. Often, I didn’t step out of my comfort zone. I knew I loved to help people, and that I was interested in travel. I wanted a new adventure. When reading about GLA, it checked all of the boxes.

You raised over $1,000 for the Global Leadership Adventures International Foundation, GLA’s non-profit partner that funds local organizations. What inspired you to become such a champion for the cause?

When I learned through the Ambassador program about the Foundation, I just knew I had to help. I really had to get out of my comfort zone to fundraise--I approached cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and many friends and parents of friends, which is not something I typically would do. Through reaching out, I raised a good amount of funds, but wanted to do more. I decided to sell some snakes, four to be exact, with proceeds going directly to GLAIF. {Jake and his younger brother have an established snake-breeding business.} It worked great as many people out there like the idea of donating to such a great cause.

Are you a GLA Ambassador or alumni who is interesting in staying involved? Check out our GLA Alumni page on Facebook for alumni news and ways to stay in touch!