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English Language Institute
PO Box 117051
223 Matherly Hall
Gainesville, FL 32611-7051
Phone: (352) 392-2070
Fax: (352) 392-3744

UCIEP, University and College Intensive English ProgramsThe ELI is a proud member of UCIEP, a consortium of University and College Intensive English Programs



Todd Allen (


Todd Allen holds an M.A. in Spanish education and a graduate certificate in TESOL from Appalachian State University. He has worked at the ELI at UF since the fall semester of 1994 as a teacher and has taught reading/writing, listening/speaking, grammar, conversation strategies, TOEFL, GRE, business English, and pronunciation. He has also served as coordinator of the oral skills, reading/writing, and grammar curricula and as editor for ELI Publications.


Mohammed Almeqdad (


Noreen Baker (


Amanda Catron (

Amanda Catron grew up in Columbus, Ohio and attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio for her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She currently holds a B.A. in French, with a minor in Linguistics, as well as an M.A. in French. While earning her Master's degree, Amanda taught introductory French courses to University students and was named Teaching Associate of the Year. She has also spent time teaching English in Tours, France and acting as the graduate assistant to Ohio University's study abroad program in Avignon, France.

She is a McNair Scholar and first generation college student. Prior to teaching at the ELI, she has held positions as a Success Coach to non-traditional students at Tiffin University, and as a research assistant to Dr. Theresa Antes at University of Florida.

Amanda moved to Gainesville in 2014 to earn her PhD in Linguistics - specializing in Second Language Acquisition. Her research interests include foreign language anxiety, linguistic discrimination, linguistic profiling, and sociolinguistics.

In her free time, Amanda enjoys watching movies, acting as the Graduate Outreach Coordinator for Gators for All Abilities, exploring local restaurants, and entertaining her cat Chompsky.


Scott Challgren (

Scott grew up moving around the US a great deal due to his father's work. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky but also lived in Illinois, Virginia and then, at age 10, moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he graduated high school. He attended college at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC where he received a degree in Spanish. Scott also received a master's degree from UF in Spanish linguistics. Scott has traveled throughout the US and the world extensively. He has lived and studied in Costa Rica and Spain, and also spent 4 months in Australia working and traveling. He has backpacked through 3 South American countries as well as in Europe. Scott completed a TEFL Certification course in Madrid and Leon, Spain with the Canterbury Institute, headquartered on Calle Gran Via in Madrid. He taught EFL for FORENEX Summer Camp Programs (an English language camp) based at the Universitat de les Illes Balears (University of the Balearic Islands) in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. He began teaching at the UF ELI in the fall of 2008. Gainesville has been home since 2003. GO GATORS!


Chak Chan (

Chak Chan is a native of Hong Kong. She received a B.A. in philosophy from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and an M.A. in applied linguistics from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. She moved to the United States in 1995 and attended Purdue University, where she earned her doctorate in English linguistics, focusing in sociolinguistics and ESL with a special emphasis on ESL writing. At Purdue, Chak taught freshman composition and worked in an oral English proficiency assessment program. She also taught reading, writing and grammar at the UF ELI before spending a sabbatical year in 2006 with her family in Hong Kong, where she taught technical writing to graduate engineering students. Chak has two teenage sons and is an active member of the Gainesville Chinese Christian Church.


Lynne Clark (

A native of Scotland, Lynne holds an MSc in Education from the University of Edinburgh. She started teaching English in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1995. Since then, her work in English language teaching, teacher training, and program management has taken her to a number of countries across Europe and the Middle East, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, UAE, the West Bank, and Saudi Arabia.


Carolina Diaz (


Thomas Dolce (

Thomas Dolce is a native Floridian, growing up in Orlando and spending the majority of his adult life in Gainesville. Thomas holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Linguistics, both from the University of Florida. He originally started at the ELI as a language assistant, but has been a teacher since 2011. In addition to his time working at the ELI, Thomas has also worked in Japan as a high school English teacher.

Outside of work, Thomas enjoys the simple pleasures in life. Thomas is an avid baseball fan and watches hundreds of games every season. Thomas also enjoys being active in the Gainesville community and helping ELI students adjust to life in the United States.


Barbara Drake (

Barbara holds a B.A. in English from SUNY Purchase and an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Florida. She received post-graduate training in ESL through the English Program of Laureate International Universities. A former part-time English instructor at Santa Fe College, Barbara returned in May 2014 from a seven-year stint in Lima, Peru, where she taught ESL and English for Translators at the Peruvian University of the Applied Sciences (UPC). While in Peru, Barbara also did reporting for NBC News and the Miami Herald. In her free time, Barbara enjoys hiking, cooking, browsing through bookstores and floating in an inner tube down the beautiful Ichetucknee River.


Matt Goode (

Matt is a native of Des Moines, Iowa, and holds an MEd from UF. He is certified to teach reading and English and endorsed to teach ESOL by the Florida Department of Education. Matt enjoys creating music, learning about international musical traditions, reading history and fiction, and following international sports.


Elia Guldan (


Barbara Hess-Earp (

Barbara Hess-Earp holds an M.A. in Linguistics and a graduate certificate in teaching English as a second language, both from UF. She also holds a diploma in linguistics from the Sorbonne (University of Paris) as well as an M.A. in French from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. She has taught ESL at Santa Fe College and at UF's ELI. She retired from administrative duties in 2010, after 9 years as the ELI's Admissions Officer. Before becoming a language teacher, Barbara enjoyed a long career as an executive in the field of publishing newspapers and magazines in the US as well as in Europe and Asia.


Laura Jervis (

Laura Jervis is a Gainesville native and has a master's degree in bilingual/bicultural education from the University of Florida. She has worked for the English Language Institute since 2012. She has always been excited about writing and languages. She graduated from UF with a B.S. in journalism and a minor in African studies in 2010. Prior to her teaching career she was a newspaper copy editor. In college she attended an intensive Swahili program in Tanzania, and she uses that experience to empathize with her students who are struggling with English.


Melina Jimenez (


Melina Jimenez holds a B.A. and an M.A. in linguistics from UF. She has been teaching at the ELI since 2006 and has also taught at Santa Fe College. She is currently teaching the highest levels of reading and writing and listening and speaking at the ELI which she really enjoys because of the diversity of what she is able to teach her students as well the surprising amount she learns from them in return. Melina has served as the editor of the ELI Weekly and of ELI Student Voices. She has traveled to Germany, France, South Korea, Japan, as well as around Colombia. She enjoys trying new foods from various parts of the world and welcomes new friends to try to surprise her with interesting dishes!


Jane Keeler (

Jane grew up in north central Florida, but moved to Tennessee in order to earn her BA in Russian and Political Science at the University of the South. She had planned for a career with the US government, but after several years in an unfulfilling government job, she decided to turn her focus to languages. In 2005 she moved to Vladimir, Russia to teach English and to regain her Russian skills. While there, she fell in love with teaching English, and has been working in this field ever since. In addition to Russia, she has taught in South Korea, Kyrgyzstan, and Orlando, Florida - where she attended the University of Central Florida and graduated in May 2014 with her MA in TESOL. Jane has been teaching at the ELI since May 2014, and currently lives in High Springs, FL with her numerous dogs and cats.


Deborah Kellermann (

Deborah first became a Gator and an English aficionado during her undergraduate years at UF. After marrying her husband, a Gator engineering grad, she continued her education at Florida International University in Miami and earned her master's degree in TESOL.

While growing up, Deborah traveled around the world as a Navy brat and, thus, had already acquired a love of other cultures and languages before she entered college. Since becoming an adult, she has continued to travel and study the cultures and languages of many other countries. She has also taught English and ESOL at a number of universities and colleges throughout the US.

She very much enjoys teaching English as a second language to students in the stimulating academic environment of UF. She truly finds fulfillment in the joy of helping so many students from around the world to reach their educational goals and accomplish their dreams.


Farrah Khan (


Patrick Klager (

Patrick Klager is a native of Palm City, Florida and holds a B.S. in Business Administration, a B.A. in Linguistics, a minor in TESL, and an M.A. in Linguistics—all of which were from the University of Florida. After finishing his undergraduate degrees and before graduate school, he moved to Shenzhen, China and taught English to Chinese students for 2 years. In addition to teaching English in China, he also traveled around South East Asia, visiting places in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Patrick now works at the ELI as a core faculty member and loves teaching English, working with International students, and eating foreign food.


Aleuna Lee (


Lisa Levine (

Lisa Levine is a native New Yorker, with a Master's in Adult Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She began her ESL career in the early 1990s, teaching refugees recently arrived from the former Soviet Union. She has taught immigrants from many countries in a variety of settings, such as community colleges and refugee resettlement organizations. From 2007-2011, she was a teacher trainer and university instructor in South Korea. Upon returning to the U.S., she taught in an Intensive English Program at Michigan State University. She is very happy to be in a warmer climate here in Gainesville.


Joshua Martin (


Samaneh Moayedi (

Samaneh Moayedi grew up in Iran and moved to Gainesville to study at UF in 2012. She completed her master's degree in education in May 2014. Prior to that, she earned a bachelor's degree in English translation from Azad University in Qaemshahr, Iran, and served as an EFL teacher for six years in Iran. She is currently enrolled in the SLAT Certificate program in the UF Department of Linguistics. In addition to English, she speaks Farsi and Urdu.

Samaneh enjoys traveling and exploring the culture, language, and customs of other countries. She has visited France, Belgium, Greece, the Netherlands, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey, India, and the United Arab Emirates. She also enjoys going to the beach and spending time with her husband and seven-year-old son.


Olha Moody (

Olha (called Olga in the US) is from Ukraine and speaks her native language, Ukrainian. She received her M.A. from Cherkasy State University in her home country. Olga also spent a year at the University of Tennessee on a fellowship for international educators. Olga is fluent in English and Russian and has had some training in German. She taught English as a foreign language in Ukrainian public schools before teaching at the university level for 15 years.

Olga immigrated to the US in 2007 and has travelled extensively throughout Europe and the US. Olga enjoys teaching people of all ages and cultures and finds fulfillment in seeing her students develop useful English skills.


Jenna Nishida (

Jenna Nishida earned her B.A. & M.A. in English and her Ed.S. in Instruction & Curriculum from the University of Florida. She is currently studying graduate-level TESOL through the University of North Florida. She is a certified public school English teacher with experience teaching American secondary school and college students. She was born in New York State but grew up in England, Virginia, Kansas, Texas, and Florida. She has also lived briefly in Belgium and Spain and has traveled in Japan, the U.K., France, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Romania, Canada, and all over the U.S.A. She loves studying literature and poetry, English, and the history of English, as well as many other languages, including Spanish and Arabic.


Michelle Perdomo (


Tairan Qiu (


Tom Ratican (

Tom Ratican

Tom Ratican is a proud alumnus of UF. He did his undergraduate work in the College of Education and briefly taught high school French and Spanish in Jacksonville, Florida. After spending 3 years in the Army, including 16 months in Turkey, Tom came back to UF to do graduate work. He received a master's degree in French with a minor in linguistics. Tom did additional course work in the teaching of English to speakers of other languages at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He then taught ESL part time for 2 years at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. After receiving his master's degree, Tom worked for 30 years as a translator for the US government, translating French to English and Spanish to English. He loves languages and learning about the cultures of other countries. Tom has been back at his alma mater and teaching part-time for the ELI since 2004.


Raquel Rojas (

Raquel started at the ELI as a Language Assistant in Spring 2010. She graduated with her B.A. in English and a minor and certificate in TESL from UF in 2012. After finishing her B.A., she lived in a small, rural Japanese town where she taught English to children and teenagers all over the prefecture. She returned in 2013 to complete her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in Bilingual/ESOL Education. Now she is an adjunct professor at the ELI and hopes to be a part of the ELI family for a long time. When she is not thinking about her classes, teaching, and her students, she likes to spend time watching movies, taking photos, baking, and being with loved ones. Teaching is her passion, and she hopes to help her students succeed in every way even after they have left the ELI.


Deborah Sakalla (


Jennifer Schroeder (

Jennifer Schroeder

Jennifer Schroeder has her MEd in curriculum and instruction from George Mason University. She grew up in Florida and Georgia. She just recently returned to the US after living and teaching in Turkey for the past ten years. She loves traveling and learning about different cultures. She has been to Russia, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Greece and Bulgaria.


Maya Shastri (

Maya Shastri grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas in a multi-cultural household. An avid interest in language and culture led her to earn a B.A. double major in German and anthropology from the University of Arkansas and an M.A. in German from Penn State University. She taught both English as a foreign language and German before joining the UF ELI team. She has lived abroad in such exotic places as Bremen, Germany and Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories, in the Canadian High Arctic.


Christine Voigt (

Christine Voigt

Christine is a native Floridan and has been living in Gainesville since 2011. She holds an M.Ed. in ESOL/bilingual education from UF and a BFA in theatre arts from Jacksonville University. Christine is enjoying the opportunity to teach so many different classes and levels at the ELI and is also the current editor of the ELI Weekly and Student Voices. Prior to teaching at the ELI, Christine lived in and around Seoul, South Korea for four years teaching English. During that time, she was able to travel to many different countries and learn about various cultures. Other than travel and culture, Christine also enjoys cooking, live music, movies, and theater. In the future, she hopes to continue her travels through teaching English abroad, and eventually visit every continent in the world.


Zoe Witty (

Prior to completing her MEd at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea, Zoe completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland, and has been teaching EFL at Kwangwoon University, also in South Korea, for the last six years. Her familiarity with her students' difficulties speaking English has helped her excel. Zoe is a passionate educator, who, as a non-native speaker of English herself, understands the struggles of ESL students and is sensitive to their needs.


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