Meet our Hawaii and Costa Rica Minimester Instructors!

Hawaii Instructors:

Annie Waschko

Annie Waschko was born and raised in Northeastern Pennsylvania (near Scranton if you’re a fan of The Office!) but has committed to exploring as many new places as possible. Her motto is “life is not short; it’s the longest thing you get” - she believes that there is lots of room for growth and adventure in life as long as you step intentionally towards it.

She received her BA in English from Loyola University Maryland and her MA in Cross-Cultural Communication from Newcastle University. Her travels have taken her to more than twenty states and more than twenty countries, but the most meaningful, extended amounts of time have been in Boston, Texas, Thailand, Greece, Spain, England, and Vietnam. Led by her curiosity, she sees every day as a school day in the most fun way possible and as a result, places the utmost value on experiential learning. Her passion for working with children and young people has taken her through the worlds of study abroad, TEFL, outdoor education, summer camp, and now gap year programming.

Annie is thrilled to help guide Pacific Discovery students through this incredible experience and to promote empathy, community, and self-reflection. She loves cats and goats, punk rock, any and all cuisine, hiking, open-air markets, thrift stores, and museums with unusual themes.

 Jackie Palmer

Originally from Maryland, Jackie has always had a passion for education and learning. She had the opportunity to attend Rider University for her Bachelors where she had an amazing study abroad experience in Ireland and London.

During undergrad Jackie began really embracing the importance of experiential learning, which gave her the desire to pursue a Masters Degree in Student Affairs which she received from Clemson University. Through her experiences in Graduate school, she became more intentional about fueling her combined passion of experiential learning and international education. Jackie is excited to be able to hop into this new venture to assist in challenging students as they continue to find themselves and their passions. She is a big advocate that learning never stops and recognizes she is always learning from and alongside students.

Jackie believes educational travel to be extremely powerful as it provides the chance for challenge, ability to broaden one's perspectives through lived experiences of others and allows for intentional reflection. With a passion for new experiences and a spirit for adventure, Jackie is eager to begin assisting the students of Pacific Discovery in identifying their passions, fostering community, engaging them through learning and challenging them outside their comfort zone to continue working to become their best selves.

Costa Rica Instructors:

Verny Chavarria

Hola!! My name is Verny, I am from beautiful Costa Rica. I grew up in a sporty family and my father became the first Costa Rican triathlete at the World Championships. I spend my childhood practicing all kinds of sports such as triathlon, adventure racing, open water swimming and more. Oceans, lakes and mountains were a big part of my childhood.

After high school, I started training to become an adventure guide. This included river guiding, white water kayaking, sea kayaking, rappelling, horseback riding, mountain biking, trekking and much more. Being around the water and the mountains for my whole life has made me so passionate about the outdoors. I have worked in adventure travel since high school and it has been such a great journey.

Working with people from all over the world and having the opportunity to visit countries such as Peru, Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Guatemala, United States, and recently Mexico has been a life-changing experience.

Working in an industry that allows me to share my passion, my hobbies, my knowledge and skills with others makes me feel very fortunate.

Pura Vida and see you all soon.

Ashley Bertolini

Hi, I’m Ashley!

I am from Jamestown, New York, a small town south of Buffalo. Growing up, I spent most of my time outdoors, always seeking new adventures around my neighborhood. In college I studied Social Studies Education and History. I loved learning about global history and really wanted to experience the world first hand so I moved to New York City to pursue my masters in International Education. I believe combining the fields of international relations with teaching and learning help us to gain a broader worldview of the ways we use our relationships with others and our environment to facilitate learning.

I love to challenge myself by stepping out of my comfort zone to meet new people and learn from shared experiences. Over the past several years, I have traveled throughout Latin America, Europe, and Africa. Most recently, I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone where I taught high school English and co-facilitated a program for out of school girls. Prior to joining the Peace Corps, I held various positions working in non-formal education as a mentor, tutor, and leader. I spent 7 summers working for the Girl Scouts of Western New York facilitating camp activities and backpacking in upstate New York. I have always been passionate about experiential, “hands-on” learning and look forward to continuing that work with Pacific Discovery. I am so excited to be joining the Costa Rica MiniMester program this spring. This is a unique opportunity to learn directly from different communities while experiencing the breathtaking scenery.

When I am not working, traveling, or studying, I love to spend time with my family. I am the oldest of my 3 sisters. On any given day you can find me reading a book, hiking a new trail, playing badminton, or practicing my violin.


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Author Pacific Discovery Outreach Posted