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School of Education Students Take International Teaching Jobs

Two University of St. Thomas School of Education students will apply abroad the wisdom they gained at UST as they take international teaching positions in Vietnam and South Africa. 

Anastasia ZykovaTwo years ago, Anastasia Zykova had a successful journalism career in Russia. She was born in Washington, D.C., but was raised in Russia where she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism.  Despite the apprehension of her family, Zykova said she wanted to travel across the world and try new things.

“I was offered a job with an oil company in the United States,” said Zykova. “I quit my job in Moscow and started getting ready to move, but the boss disappeared and I had no idea what happened to him.”

Despite the unexpected loss of her job, Zykova said she still wanted to come to the United States. 

“I started looking for universities because I decided I really wanted to get a teaching diploma,” Zykova said. “I found St. Thomas and applied. I got in, I moved and I started looking for a job. I was lucky to find a teaching position within three weeks.”

Dr. Rick Krustchinsky, UST professor of education, communicated with Zykova electronically while she was in Russia, helping her to settle into UST and make the transition into teaching.

Zykova will finish her last classes for her teaching certification this summer and will being to teach first grade math, social science, language arts and social studies at an American English language school in Vietnam in the fall.

“I have loved UST,” said Zykova. “It’s so small and cozy and the people are really nice.  I’m very grateful to the professors.  They have inspired and encouraged me.”

Samantha SmithSamantha Smith, a native Houstonian, graduated from the UST School of Education in May with a Master of Education and will soon be teaching 4th grade in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Smith said that although she had always dreamed of becoming a teacher, when she went to Furman University in North Carolina for her undergraduate degree she pursued a degree in Spanish and history.  She was hired by the University of St. Thomas as an admissions counselor where she was introduced to the School of Education and ultimately decided to pursue her master’s degree.
“My favorite part of being in the UST School of Education was working with the professors, especially Dr. Krustchinsky, and having a network of fellow students. I got to move through my classes with a core group of girls with whom I became really good friends,” said Smith. “My relationship with Dr. Krustchinsky and with the other professors in the School of Education will last a lifetime because he cares and he takes care of his students.  I talked about the benefits of St. Thomas a lot as an admissions counselor, but it wasn’t until I became a student that I really understood and came to love it.”

While completing her degree, Smith taught in Spring ISD.  She said it didn’t take long to realize she was meant to be a teacher.  

“Teaching is just fun,” said Smith. “It’s like going to play all day and I really think that’s how you should feel about your job.”

Like Zykova, Smith said she has always had a passion for travelling.  She spent a semester studying in Spain for her undergraduate degree and knew she wanted to experience life in another country once again.

“I’ve always wanted to live abroad and when I realized I could teach abroad while making a comparable salary and not living in poverty, I started looking through organizations that put teachers and schools together.  I met my new director in South Africa at a conference in February and I think it will be a great fit.”

The UST School of Education offers a comprehensive teacher preparation program at the undergraduate and graduate levels for the development of quality teachers and educational leaders.  An online Master of Education program was added in 2010, allowing graduate student to pursue their degrees remotely.  For more information about the School of Education, contact or visit