Meet the Barcelona Staff!

First and foremost, welcome to the Barcelona Business & Language Programs blog, where you can follow along with the students’ adventures each day! The Barcelona staff is settling into the university residence and finishing preparations for this summer. Take a moment to get to know them:

Amani Starnes, Program Director

Amani is thrilled to return to the Summerfuel Barcelona team as Program Director. She is a Summerfuel veteran, having directed the Barcelona, Stanford, Columbia, and UC Berkeley programs in the past. She is currently an actress, writer, and singer in Los Angeles, as well as a Performance Studies PhD candidate at Stanford University. She has worked as an academic consultant and managed educational service companies in Los Angeles and Manhattan. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors, eating delicious food, dancing, singing, making art, and checking out the latest art exhibits, performances, and concerts.

Elizabeth (Liz) Stallard, Activities Director

Liz is excited to return to Summerfuel Barcelona for her fourth summer. Before taking on the Activities Director role last summer, Liz worked as a Resident Advisor. She is also an alumni of the Spain Homestay Program and will be escorting the extension trip students to Conil in late July. This past year, Liz worked for a nonprofit organization in the NYC area. Previously, she taught English as a Second Language to elementary school-aged students in Northern Spain. Having studied in Barcelona as a college student, Liz knows Barcelona like the back of her hand and enjoys sharing the study abroad experience with Summerfuel students. Liz enjoys traveling, baking, drinking iced coffees, and discovering new hobbies (like her most recent hobby, lettering). Students who consider themselves “foodies” will enjoy picking Liz’s brain for the best restaurants and cafes in Barcelona!

Now an introduction from each of our Resident Advisors:

Pedro Alemán

¡Hola! I am Pedro Alemán and I am so excited to be part of the Barcelona Staff. I am from San Diego, California where I enjoy beautiful weather, palm trees, and of course In-N-Out! I moved to Rhode Island in New England to attend college at Providence College where I received two B.A.’s in Political Science and Sociology, and a minor in Black Studies in 2017. I then moved back to California where I attended the University of San Francisco and got an M.A. in International Studies with a concentration on Latin American Human Rights in December of 2018. My career goal is to become a diplomat and a university professor teaching Human Rights and Sociology while fighting against social injustices.  Traveling, soccer, cooking, going to the gym and beach, and enjoying the city are my favorite hobbies. Fun facts about me are that I studied abroad in Buenos Aires and Argentina, can speak three languages, and was an RA for three years. This will be my 3rd summer working for Summerfuel and my 2nd with our amazing director Amani!

Matt Alrutz

Hello! My name is Matt Alrutz. I’m from Philadelphia, and I recently graduated from Penn State with a BS in Industrial Engineering and a minor in Spanish. Over the years, I’ve come to love travel and exploration, and have been fortunate enough to stay in places from the UK to Greece and down to New Zealand. This will be my third extended stay in Spain. My first was as a Summerfuel student, doing a homestay in Cádiz, and my second visit was to study abroad in Madrid for the spring semester of my junior year in college. During those two trips, I found Spain to be an incredible place, rich with culture and history, along with an abundance of exciting activities and events throughout the country. I can’t wait to get back and experience everything Barcelona has to offer with the students!

Thanks for taking a moment to meet our staff! They look forward to welcoming the students to Barcelona in just a few days.

We hope you’ll follow along with the Barcelona programs’ adventures this summer by checking back to see photos and read stories of the students’ classes, activities, weekend trips, and more. ¡Hasta pronto!

Meet your Resident Advisors

Hey Summerfulers! We are getting closer and closer to your arrival here at Stanford. The next step in the preparation process will be your Resident Advisors (RAs) arriving and getting settled in. They will spend the rest of the week preparing your summer home with welcoming decorations, getting the ball rolling on some awesome summer activities and becoming acquainted with Stanford’s Campus and Palo Alto so that they can ensure you have the best summer of your life.

Wondering what an RA is? RAs on the Social Enterprise program are campus leaders dedicated to sharing their knowledge and collegiate experience with a motivated group of high school students. RAs are all rising college seniors or recent college graduates and are hired with the greatest care. RAs fill the role of mentors, supporting students academically and socially in order to make the program the best it can be. Each RA will work closely with a group of ten to eleven high school students.

Read the Bio’s Below to gets to know the RAs before you arrive!

Sana Amin, Resident Advisor

Sana is excited for her first summer with Summerfuel. Born in California and raised between Seattle, Mumbai and Doha, she calls many cities her home. With a special interest in global health and social impact work, she is keen on discovering a career that combines both of her passions. She enjoys using her free time to try new restaurants and discover old bookstores. As an avid traveller, she’s studied in Abu Dhabi, New York, London, Berlin and Florence over the past four years. She recently graduated from New York University Abu Dhabi and can’t wait to begin her next adventure at Stanford.


Robert Yule, Resident Advisor

Rob is excited to begin his first summer as an RA for Summerfuel! He is a Civil and Environmental Engineering student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Rob is also pursuing a minor in Sustainability as he is passionate about the well-being and health of the world’s resources, societies, and people. He is a collegiate member of the Navy and is looking forward to working on Civil Engineering projects all over the world when he graduates college next spring. When not studying, Rob enjoys skiing, hiking, fitness, and reading. His favorite genres are science fiction and history. He is from Plymouth, Massachusetts.


Daylin Davis, Resident Advisor

Daylin will be teaming up with summerfuel as a residence advisor for his first summer at Stanford. Daylin is from the Washington D.C Metropolitan Area. Daylin was a two sport collegiate athlete playing soccer & basketball. He received his Associates Degree in General Science at West Virginia University & is working on his Bachelors Degree at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. He enjoys sports, traveling, & photography.


Shannon Lee, Resident Advisor

Shannon is looking forward to spending her first summer at Stanford and her first time on the west coast this July! She was an RA for two years at University of New England in southern Maine, where she was able to hike mountains, explore port towns, and of course many northeast beaches and lighthouses! During her undergraduate years she also studied abroad in Seville Spain and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at a local elementary school working closely with English language learning students. Some of her biggest passions are hiking, traveling, running, yoga, and holistic health. Shannon just finished her master’s degree in Health and Wellness Management and hopes to develop health programs serving underprivileged communities and youth in our country or beyond. The Summerfuel Social Enterprise program at Stanford University was of particular interest to Shannon, for her passion and education in social issues and global concerns. She is enthusiastic to support, encourage and assist in the development of leadership skills to the students that she will be mentoring for beyond this program. She cannot wait to meet and get to know everyone this summer and is looking forward to all of the fun and adventures we will experience together!

Stay tuned! Soon we will be updating the bios for the Faculty you will have the pleasure of working with this summer.

Senior Staff Explores San Francisco!

Your Senior Staff hit the ground running, exploring San Francisco today. Enjoy some of the pictures below from an amazing adventure!




Meet your Senior Staff!

Meet your Senior Staff!

Chad Wolf, Program Director

Chad is excited to start his ninth summer with Summerfuel, this being his sixth summer as a Director and his third at Stanford. When he isn’t at Summerfuel he teaches World Geography and loves to travel, go hiking and eat delicious food. His goal for this year’s program is to use diverse experiences and enthusiasm of every staff member and student to create an amazing three weeks!



Kenny Obiora, Assistant Director

Kenny is excited to take on his second summer at Stanford after serving on the Summerfuel Nice team for three summers! He is also the Assistant director at the CABerkeley program. He is originally from Wisconsin with Nigerian roots. Kenny recently completed his MBA in Paris, France where he currently lives. He is working for a Healthcare startup. During his free time, he enjoys cooking, traveling, playing tennis and most of all binging on Netflix! 


Morghan Hungerford, Activities Director

Morghan is excited to start her fifth summer with Summerfuel, this being her third summer as the Activities Director at Stanford. From a tiny town in the Washington, DC area, when she isn’t teaching elementary school, she loves playing on her county’s kickball team, coaching for Special Olympics, hanging out with her dogs and traveling. Morghan is currently working on her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction.  

The Benefits of a Summer Leadership Program

There are so many important things to be gained from attending a summer leadership program such as Summerfuel’s Leadership & Innovation program at Columbia University. High school students get the chance to live on a university campus, obtaining a taste of true college life. Students attend the program from quite literally all over the world, which is an amazing opportunity to broaden horizons and make new friends they might have never met otherwise. New York City is at their fingertips, and students are able to discover all that it has to offer. There are many great aspects of Leadership & Innovation at Columbia, yet one thing stands out as a particularly valuable component which students will carry with them through the rest of their lives – leadership skills.

What Is Leadership?

“Leadership” can be defined as ‘the action of leading a group of people or organization; the state or position of being a leader,” with synonyms of “guidance, direction, authority, control, management” and more. Yet there is more to “leadership” than meets the eye, and there is a plethora of ways that people, especially young high school students, use leadership skills every day of their lives, and will continue to use into their futures. From being more confident in social situations and leading the charge on group projects in high school, to mastering the college application process and entering the workforce with ease, leadership is a priceless skill that can truly transform a student’s life.

We spoke with Lawrence Alexander, Boarding School Guidance Counselor and Summerfuel’s Leadership & Innovation Program Director, as well as Irene Hsieh, Finance Strategist for Entrepreneurs and Summerfuel’s Leadership & Innovation Faculty member, to get a firsthand account of the type of skills students are able to take away from a leadership program.

Leadership is not something that students need to wait until they start their careers to employ, but is a skill that can be used here and now, as high school students and even earlier. As someone who counsels students as young as 6th grade, Lawrence says “I think that we don’t give our students enough credit for the ages in which they confront things that we didn’t confront in our generations before. Students are confronting global crisis and civil war in other countries outside the United States. By the time we get them [at Summerfuel] at 14 or 15 years old, they can be experts and veterans in these conversations. So, I think programs like ours help to hone and acknowledge the fact that they’re already leaders in training.”

Learning Your Key Strengths

An important aspect of the leadership program is for students to take the Clifton Strengths for Students Test, which is a leadership profile assessment that enables students to understand what their strengths are. Irene notes that based on these assessments she “helped them understand how their key strengths would enable them to empower themselves, but also enable them to work more effectively on teams. If they understood not only what their strengths were, but also the strengths of the other teammates they would be able to harness that and work more effectively overall on getting projects done, but also individually in terms of what they were best able to achieve and how they could achieve it.”

As a successful entrepreneur and business owner herself, Irene goes on to say, “I wish I’d taken the Clifton personality test when I was in high school. I didn’t know what my strengths were, and it took me many years to realize it. I had to make a lot of mistakes before I really understood the importance of knowing your strengths and being able to capitalize on it.”

The value of students learning their strengths goes far beyond classroom projects or simply doing well in school, as Irene explains: “Understanding the individual personality strengths enables the person to have confidence, which is probably most important as a high school student, because a lot of kids are still developing and finding themselves at that age. To have confidence during a very vulnerable period of a person’s life really gives you an advantage, and a leg up on your personal and eventually, professional development.”

Leadership & College Admissions

As students move through high school and embark on the journey of applying to and entering college, leadership skills take on a whole new meaning. With such skills in their toolbelt, students not only have the confidence, but also the ability to identify which classes and what major they are more inclined to focus on. As Irene mentions, “A lot of people that enter into college don’t know what their career is going to be, and they have no idea what they want to focus on. Understanding their strengths can help them narrow the choices so that it’s easier for them to pick what would work out best for them.”

In the current age of extreme competition during the college admissions process, there is so much pressure for students to be able to demonstrate their leadership abilities outside of the classroom. So many students applying to colleges are the President of Student Government or the Captain of the track team, and this requires them to be able to articulate what they do and what that leadership means, rather than just simply submitting a resume.  Lawrence says that a summer leadership program is “really helping give students the words to go along with the prodigious activities they’re involved in.”

Lawrence goes on to explain, “When you look at college programs, whether it’s internships, externships or opportunities to be launched out into the world, more and more of those programs are now happening the summer of freshman year, so students don’t have the two to three year runway to get ready. When they go to college for that external piece, they need to be ready. Programs like [Summerfuel] really help them beyond the GPA and test scores, and those things are important from a leadership perspective. It helps them be right where colleges and employers need them to be.”

Tackling Public Speaking

One of the main aspects of a summer leadership program such as Leadership & Innovation at Columbia University is public speaking. Public speaking can be quite an anxiety-inducing experience for many people, and not everyone expresses themselves in a public format the same way. However, the best leaders find a way to convey ideas and express themselves, and many of those arenas are public. Lawrence shares, “I can say from my personal and professional experience, a leader who can confidently and coherently convey big ideas and cast a vision is important. Those qualities are important in a leader.”

Irene notes, “It’s one thing to be knowledgeable, but it’s also important to convey the sense of that knowledge. A lot of the students realize that if they understood what their strengths were, they could use that to come across as more persuasive. If you understand your strengths, you can find a way to convey your opinion and thoughts in a form that’s most effective for you, and that makes you feel most confident.”

The Importance of Listening

Something equally as important that goes hand-in-hand with speaking is listening. Lawrence reflects, “I think for both students and myself, one of the most important things is to become a better listener. On the day the students leave, they’re almost falling into each other’s arms and crying, because these people that were once strangers, they now know that much better. I have to believe that those relationships aren’t built because they’ve talked a lot, but they’ve been built because they’ve listened to and learned about other people. That’s not just a social value, but a leadership value. I think that in an age of talking and tweeting, listening is a skill we could all use.”

Leadership in Social Situations

Leadership skills are invaluable in their use in social situations and interpersonal relationships. Irene posits that when dealing with friendships or partnerships, it is important that you understand yourself first before you can begin to understand someone else, and leadership skills allow you to do just that. She says, “If you are aware of your strengths and aware that every person has their own strengths, you can be more watchful of that. So, when you interact with other people socially, you can hone in on their strengths more quickly and develop stronger social contexts.”

Lawrence states, “The basic skills of advocating for yourself and others, reading situations and cues, having courage, and being self-aware are intangibles that you can practice and are essential. These essentials may keep my child from getting in the car with someone who’s been intoxicated or help them speak up for someone who may be subject to bullying who won’t speak up for themselves; it helps you be an upstander. There is a lot of character leadership that we can help students develop in this time.”

Growing Confidence

So much of this is related to confidence. Lawrence points out that confidence and competence go hand in hand. Some students may be really competent, but need a boost of confidence. Conversely, other students might be more confident if they could build more competency. Wherever a student may fall, a summer leadership program is able to help with those deltas. Lawrence reflects that from the time students arrive at the program to the time they depart, he sees them grow in so many ways, from humility and skill development, to simply believing in themselves.

As Lawrence states, a leadership program such as Summerfuel’s Leadership & Innovation at Columbia University “is the most practical preparation for leadership that’s on the market. Students come from all over the world, from every kind of background, and they’re practically applying the skills that they’re learning. This is actually what leadership will be like in the real world.” From interpersonal relationships and college admissions, to public speaking and entering the work force, leadership is undoubtedly a priceless asset for students to carry with them throughout the rest of their lives.



An Inside Look at a Summer in Spain

There is something about Summerfuel that always has people coming back for more.

From staff members that have worked with Summerfuel for decades to students that return for a second or third summer in a row, once you experience a Summerfuel summer your life will never be the same.

A perfect example of someone falling in love with Summerfuel and making it a major part of their life is Summerfuel Andalusia alum, Elizabeth Stallard. Elizabeth attended Summerfuel’s Spanish Immersion Homestay program in Conil, Spain as a student in 2010. During her time as a Summerfuel student, Elizabeth fell in love with the culture and language of Spain. Consequently, she was inspired to return to Spain several times to study and work. Elizabeth even lived in Northern Spain for two years working as an elementary school ESL teacher.

It wasn’t long before she was drawn back to Summerfuel, and in 2016 Elizabeth joined Summerfuel Barcelona’s staff as a Resident Advisor. Elizabeth held this position for two summers before joining the Senior Staff and becoming the Activities Director in Barcelona.

Undoubtedly, Elizabeth has experienced all aspects of a summer spent in Spain.

From being a student in Conil to a Senior Staff team member in Barcelona, Elizabeth has seen it all. She has gone through the excitement and nervousness of leaving home to travel to a far-away place; knows what it is like to make new friends from around the world; has lived in the dorms, gone on excursions, eaten in the dining hall – the list goes on and on.

Join Elizabeth for a Free Webinar to hear what she has to say about Summerfuel in Spain. From housing and dining to activities and excursions, Elizabeth will talk about her first-hand experiences in Spain, giving you personal insight into life as a Summerfuel student.

Webinar: January 31st, 4PM EST

Click here to register today and get the inside scoop on life as a Summerfuel student!

Students for Social Change – Athena Reflects

In 2016, Athena M. from Florida attended Summerfuel’s Social Enterprise program, now held at Stanford University. Not only did she broaden her horizons by meeting students from all over the world, but she learned just how important social issues are to her. We know she will excel in college and make a fantastic journalist. Take a peek at what she had to say about her time with Summerfuel:

“I am currently a senior in high school, applying for colleges! I am applying mostly to schools in the Northeast, and hope to attend Tufts or Syracuse. In 2016, I attended the Summerfuel Social Entrepreneurship Program at Georgetown, and had an amazing time there. My favorite aspect of Summerfuel was probably getting the chance to meet so many international students. To this day, I still talk to some of them, including two friends from Honduras and one from New Jersey!

The program really helped me realize my passion for social issues and worldly perspectives, and that is what I want to incorporate into my future career as a journalist. I am passionate about women’s, black, and human rights, and I have even volunteered on political campaigns, raising awareness for these issues. Thank you!”

-Athena M., Florida

A Bittersweet Ending

2018 Summerfuel Stanford has officially come to a close. All of the students (& staff) have departed and are moving on to enjoy the remainder of their summer! Everyone had an amazing time and we can tell that there are many life long friendships that formed this summer.

The best part of the summer was seeing the student’s final pitches. Each group worked so hard to create meaningful entrepreneurship ventures! Below you will find out a little bit about each pitch!

These are in the order they were pitched to the Judges:

Street Lights

Justin, Shirley, and Leonardo

Storm Chasers

Chris, Laura, Yoan, Deven

Education Nation

Tia, Cooper, Johan, Pavel

We Hope

Marta, Jared, Thierry, Aisha


Mariana, Victor, Taisiya

Ukraine Side by Side

Fendi, Vitali, Giulia


Sam, Aladin, Felipe, Richie

Smart Ogorod


Urban Fresh

Allegra, Abelino, Grigory


Arne, Ryan, William


Louis, Alex, Paula, Chloe

Fugly Fruits

Venezia, Fillipo, Albert


William, Martin, Arkar, Chotiya

Future Excel

Bernardo, Martina, Diana, Andres

Future Generation

Federico, Felipe, Diego

The judges were incredibly impressed by each and every pitch that was made. They had a hard time but chose a first, second and third place, as well as a few honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:

Fugly Fruits – Venezia, Fillipo, Albert

Smart Ogorod – Makar

Third Place – Empower – Louis, Alex, Paula, Chloe

Second Place – Insecting – William, Martin, Arkar, Chotiya

First Place – Naturalis – Sam, Aladin, Felipe, Richie

We hope everyone had an amazing Summerfuel Summer! See you next year!!!