James Riley

Hamline grad recognized by State Department for achievement in English language education abroad

The U.S. Department of State will present Hamline University alumni James Riley ’11 with the Virtual English Language Educator Impact Award at the annual U.S. Department of State Awards Ceremony, Friday, March 22, during the 2024 TESOL International Convention in Tampa, Florida.

The project that secured Riley the state department award was his development of an English for Academic Purposes course for displaced people in Myanmar. Riley, who graduated from Hamline with a masters degree in Teaching English as a Second Language, works with students who have spoken out against the military coup in Myanmar, and as a result, are forbidden from accessing higher education. Riley works with his students virtually to preserve their anonymity (they use avatars and pseudonyms or ID numbers) and his classes are designed to help prepare these students for study overseas.

“Nothing I’ve done in education to this point has been as meaningful and fulfilling as this project has – it was truly a chance to help students who needed it most,” Riley said. “The MA TESOL degree that I earned at Hamline equipped me with the knowledge, skills and cultural awareness necessary to be successful with this project.”

The award will be presented to Riley with appreciation for using his Virtual English Language Educator Program experience to positively impact teachers and students in Myanmar and continuing to support U.S. foreign policy through educational and cultural exchange in his engagement with the English Language Programs community.

Hamline University will also be honored by the U.S. Department of State with a Top English Language Fellow Producing Institution Award at the annual TESOL International Convention on March 22. Click here for more information on that award.