Join us this summer!
@Oxford. Amherst. Stanford. Dublin.

Program Assistants

Our Talented Staff

Each summer we bring together a very select group of outstanding college and graduate students through a nationwide talent search for Program Assistants for the Great Books Summer Program. Program Assistants are chosen from hundreds of applicants based upon their academic excellence, intellectual enthusiasm, outgoing personality, experience in working with younger people and maturity.

Our Program Assistant staff hail from colleges and universities such as University of Chicago, Wesleyan, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Amherst, Oxford and Oberlin, and have included Rhodes Scholars, Fulbrights, and PhD students. In addition to a shared love of literature, they bring many diverse talents and expertise to the program. We have Greek scholars, philosophy majors, blossoming novelists, guitar players, rugby stars, debate team members, artists, and musicians. Many of our Program Assistants are returning to Great Books for their second, third and even fourth summers. We’re delighted to have such a talented staff of both experienced counselors and new talent at our UChicago, Amherst, Stanford, Oxford, Dubling and Beijing campuses.

The Program Assistants help facilitate seminar discussions, collaborate with students on their electives, and organize all kinds of fun indoor and outdoor activities. Each Program Assistant is assigned to a "pod", a group of 6-8 boys or girls on their dorm floor. They lead informal evening discussions in the dorm, assist their students with daily camp life, and make sure that everyone has a wonderful experience.

Meet some of our Program Assistants:

Zoe Kempf-Harris, originally from Westminster, Maryland, is a rising senior at Yale University, where she has the utmost delight to be an English major. She studies literary architecture in modernism, considering spatial and symbolic relationships in the works of such novelists as Henry James and Virginia Woolf. She is excited to begin her senior thesis on Tethering Orlando, for which she will be traveling to England to map passages of the novel onto the rooms of Knole House. A tea aficionado and sometime poet, Zoe wants to be exactly like Anne of Green Gables (given that she never got her Hogwarts letter, so Hermione’s off the table). Zoe is very much looking forward to her first summer at Great Books Amherst, which is sure to be filled with books and greatness!

Zak Lutz, originally from a small Ohio town, is a recent graduate of Harvard after studying Social Studies and Philosophy. His love of books began with his childhood chess passion and many hours spent reading chess theory. His intellectual interests have shifted to the history of political thought, particularly in America and Europe, and he’s planning to continue studying next year at University of Chicago. This will be his second summer with Great Books at Amherst, and he’s looking forward to meeting some fantastic campers.


Jane Spardel is a senior at Bates College, studying English and History. Some of her favorite writers include Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Charles Dickens, and many more. Jane is finishing her senior thesis on female artistic liberation in the Gothic works of Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen, inspired by her semester abroad in the United Kingdom and her summer at Great Books Amherst. Besides having her nose stuck in a book, Jane can be found advocating for a girl's right to an equal education, rehearsing in the dance studio, or dreaming about the Jersey shore.


Amelia McConville is a soon to be graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where she read Philosophy and English Literature. Born in Dublin, her academic interest is in the literature, theatre, and visual arts of the 20th and 21st centuries, with a strong focus on the works of Samuel Beckett. She has recently completed her undergraduate thesis on contemporary Irish theatre, and her extracurricular interests involve directing theatre productions and playing music. She will be present at both the Oxford and Trinity campuses, and is especially looking forward to introducing students to Dublin's vibrant literary culture.


Akash Mehta attends Deep Springs College, whose 26 students split their time between academics, ranch work and other physical labor, and the responsibilities of self-governance. His academic interests include political philosophy, civil rights law, and - of course! - all things literature. Hailing from New York City, he spent much of his time during high school working in local politics and organizing youth activism and charity efforts. He's thrilled to be heading to Chicago for his first summer as a Program Assistant, and is confident that the vitality of the program will amply make up for the poverty of the city's pizza.


Ashley Huang, a native Texan and rising sophomore at Stanford University, plans to double major in English and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality studies. When she's not sketching in her journal or attending movie screenings, Ashley can be found lounging around in a hammock somewhere, probably. She loves critical theory, the Beat Generation, and video games. This will be her first summer with Great Books, and she can't wait to meet her campers.


Charlie Tyrer is a Londoner and soon-to-be graduate of Christ Church, Oxford. Christ Church served as real-life inspiration for Alice in WonderlandBrideshead Revisited and much of the design of Hogwarts, so it is befitting that Charlie read English Literature. Particular interests include Chaucer, early modern English drama, and William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience, through which most matters of life are addressed. Charlie also enjoys sketching in his spare time, although by all accounts his enthusiasm far exceeds his skill. This will be Charlie's first time as a Program Assistant and he will be on home turf at Oxford. 

Lily Peterson was born in Maui, Hawaii and raised in Santa Rosa, California. Though she never got the hang of surfing, Lily stayed active in her formative years, enjoying a few hobbies like theater, dance, and photography. Now Lily is a rising senior at Pitzer College and is majoring in Critical Global Studies. She serves as a senator on Pitzer's Student Government and is the proud founder of Pitzer's Bowling and Making Friends Club. Lily spent her spring semester of 2015 studying abroad in Parma, Italy learning Italian, Art History, and how to be a discerning gelato connoisseur. After graduating from Pitzer, she will be spending the next year teaching English in Malaysia. This will be her third year with Great Books and she cannot be more excited for the summer!

Martina Lentino is a sophomore at the University of Chicago, where she’s studying Art History and Human Rights. She’s an avid singer, a lover of all kinds of theatre, a romantic comedy connoisseur, and a learning enthusiast. In her free time, Martina enjoys spending hours and hours at art museums, curling up with a good book, and hunting for the best empanadas in Chicago (she’s Argentine and refuses to let them go).



Tatiana Balabanis is a Miami native and current sophomore at Stanford University, studying psychology on a pre-med track.  She was a camper at Great Books Stanford from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2014, and continues her role in the Great Books community as a Program Assistant and occasional dance DJ (DJ Shadow). Her favorite book is Catcher in the Rye, and when she's not reading she can be found debating Kanye West or playing rugby for Stanford's club team.


Shira Zilberstein is an Amherst native, but currently attends Northwestern University in Chicago where she is pursuing a degree in Sociology and History. Her intellectual interests include art, culture, travel, documentaries and literature, particularly modernist classics and nonfiction essays. Last year she conducted research in modern British history at Northwestern, as well as on Chicago's judicial system with the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice. Shira enjoys analyzing and pondering anything and everything around her and is very excited to spend her summer doing just that for her third year at Great Books, this time as our UChicago Lead Program Assistant.


Dan Ackerman is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago, where he was an International Studies major. Dan was a Great Books camper on the Stanford campus from 2007 to 2011, and this is my first year returning as a Program Assistant at UChicago. He's psyched! He enjoys improv, comedy, and theater, and his favorite book isWhite Noise by Don DeLillo. 



Ilan Berkman is a student at Vassar College, where he has been savoring the opportunity to experiment and explore diverse academic interests, ranging from English literature and creative writing, to filmmaking and linguistic anthropology. Ilan also occupies his time at Vassar playing Ultimate Frisbee, singing in an a cappella group, and writing and performing with a sketch comedy troupe. Ilan joined the Great Books community last year at Stanford, and now plans to return to his hometown of Amherst for Great Books before setting off for his study abroad adventures in Chile! 


Eliana Zupcich is a junior at Hamilton College, studying Linguistics and Italian Studies. She works with her university library's research department. She is enthusiastic about rock climbing, exploring the outdoors, playing early music on her banjolele, and taking care of animals. Currently, Eliana is studying abroad and engaging in ethnographic fieldwork; she was stationed in Perugia, Italy during fall of 2016 and in Auckland, New Zealand during spring of 2017. This will be her third summer as an Intermediate Program Assistant with Great Books.


AJ Mezoff is a junior at Brown University pursuing concentrations in English and Hispanic Studies. His literary interests center primarily on Shakespeare, though he also greatly enjoys gothic and mystery fiction; his favorite works range from Beowulf to If on a winter’s night a traveler. When not reading, he enjoys playing cello, watching Monty Python clips, and brushing up on his trivia skills. AJ was a camper at Great Books for three years, and he’s thrilled to be back as a Program Assistant again this summer.


Olivia Noble is a student at Yale University, where she studies literature, Czech, and art. While her home in South Texas is not at all close to Eastern Europe, she is a member of the Slavic Women’s Chorus. Between books, she enjoys watercoloring, baking bread, and taking naps in libraries. Before becoming a Program Assistant, Olivia was a camper at Amherst for five summers, and looks forward to once again beholding the wonders of morning calisthenics and poetry competitions.


Christina Lamoureaux is a recent graduate of Georgetown University with a double major in English and Government and a minor in French. She is usually reading several books simultaneously and can always find space on her shelf of books to read, especially for science fiction and anything by F. Scott Fitzgerald. She will be starting law school in the fall. This will be her third summer as a PA with Great Books following eight years as a GBSP camper, and she could not be more excited to be returning. 


Jane Gordon studied Mesopotamian and Anatolian literature at the University of Chicago, and spent a year teaching English to Austrian teenagers outside of Vienna. She is currently studying for her Master's degree in Ancient History at University College London. When not explaining the difference between “much” and “many” or deploring the demise of her knowledge of cuneiform, she enjoys reading twentieth-century cozy fiction by women, playing the cello, and visiting art museums. She is very excited to be returning for a third summer as a Program Assistant.



Noah Nash is an English major at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Noah is from Washington D.C. and will be working at the Stanford campus for a third consecutive summer. His favorite books include Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, Beowulf, and the Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Noah is also the Sports Editor of the Kenyon Collegian, Kenyon's weekly newspaper. 


Sojourner Ahébée, born in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa, currently resides in between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Stanford, California, where she attends Stanford University. She loves storytelling, history, good food, languages, and documentaries. Having been a poet for much of her life, she sees the world through words and rhythm. When she’s not writing, she enjoys traveling, listening to music from around the globe, and watching films.



Spencer Lenfield is a graduate of  the University of Oxford with a BA in Classics and Philosophy. His first degree was in History and Literature at Harvard. Some of his favorite things at the moment include Proust's Recherche, Vergil's Eclogues, and Hayao Miyazaki's movies. He's also a fan of the gyoza stand at the Gloucester Green market on Wednesdays. 



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