Madura Wijewardena

Introducing our New Young Alumni Chair: Dennell reynolds, ab'11

We hope you will join us in welcoming Dennell to the board!

Dennell Reynolds, AB’11, is a rare Washington, DC native. She studied East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Environmental Studies at UChicago and headed to Beijing after graduation on a Chinese government language study scholarship. Dennell then joined the University of Chicago Center in Beijing as student programs coordinator. “I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I could make a career out of education administration after catching the bug for working with students as a camp counselor, UChicago tour guide, and Neighborhood Schools Program tutor,” she writes. Dennell encourages all alumni who pass through Beijing, Hong Kong, New Delhi, or Paris to visit the local UChicago center and says that coffee/tea, a quiet workspace, and good events await.


Dennell moved on to England to get a master’s degree in Comparative and International Education at the University of Oxford. She found that the academic work in her program at Oxford was (“shockingly!”) more challenging than that at UChicago, but she emerged with original findings on how study abroad opportunities can shape the personal narratives of low-income high schoolers. You can read her article “Transformation, Liberation, and Learning Through Fee-Free U.S.-to-China High School Study Abroad Programs” in the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Research Symposium Series Volume 2.


Dennell returned to DC in 2016 and is currently the External Affairs Coordinator at the Close Up Foundation, an experiential civic education organization. “Each day I live out my actual childhood fantasy of seeing Washington, DC through fresh eyes as part of a visiting school group,” she writes. Dennell brings in policy speakers to share their expertise with visiting middle and high school students from all U.S. states and territories, and also takes student groups to DC’s embassies. Dennell is also an external advisor to Americans Promoting Study Abroad, which takes diverse American high schoolers to China for language and culture study.

Dennell is excited to take on the Board position of Young Alumni Chair and loves the vaunted DC tradition of happy hours, but also plans to branch out and help organize other activities that can get young alumni out of the office, library, or living room and into the city with each other. Please drop her a line at if you have an idea for an activity or want to help out at future events.