Wanderlust strikes us all once in a while, and Beverly Van Drunen was struck from the tender age of a teenager.
“I knew I wanted to travel, and I knew I wanted to meet people from all walks of life. I was in the diversity club in high school. I just wanted to keep that going,” Van Drunen said.
College provided her the opportunity to explore other parts of the world. She majored in international studies, human rights and social movements, which gave her the opportunity to fulfill her dream of traveling. She has been to Brazil, Perú, and five different countries in Europe.
Van Drunen thought her love for traveling was going to lead her to work for the United Nations or get a job in international politics. Life doesn’t always move in the way we think it will, which is what Van Drunen realized when she graduated in 2009. She was left wondering what was next.
“I had all these internships and I did all these wonderful things, but I was kind of tired. I was tired of traveling and I was tired of going everywhere. I just wanted to be in one spot for a while,” she said.
After college, she took a job in an eTAP (Empowering Teens and Parents) program, where she became a teen facilitator/motivator. Her high school guidance counselor, Dr. Daniel Lakey, told her about an in-school suspension program, which had a rehabilitative quality. She applied and got the job.
“I fell in love. I felt like this was my calling, this was my purpose, everything. I loved being back in the school. I loved working with teenagers, especially troubled teenagers,” she said. “Kids who are high risk, getting into trouble all the time, having problems at home - I loved getting to know their story, and seeing their potential and seeing them for who they could be, always encouraging them. I loved my job so much.”
Van Drunen is a great example that sometimes our next great adventure might be right in front of us. She enrolled in a graduate program for school counseling and mental health counseling at Purdue University Northwest, graduated in 2017, and is now a counselor at Merrillville High School. Van Drunen’s goal is to encourage her kids to reach their potential.
She started Impact Day, which takes place each trimester at the high school. This full-day program is meant to empower the kids to become active members of their community, but it is also an opportunity for the students to get to know one another. It involves students, staff, community members, and has now grown to include members of other high schools. Van Drunen is creating a space for many kids to see what can be possible in their life, so maybe one day they will be able to travel all over the world just like she did.