US alumna Stasha Healy on tracing her Scottish roots, writing while travelling, and helping East Coast alumni to celebrate Burns Night.
|Anastasia (Stasha) Mills Healy
|Junior year abroad
|Year of leaving
At the moment
I'm thrilled that my family is vaccinated, safe, and well, and that some travel is possible again.
Your time at the University
I always enjoyed reading and writing so studying literature at university was a given. I am American with Scottish ancestry and I also always knew I wanted to do a junior year abroad so the Edinburgh JYA programme was a perfect fit. I loved taking Scottish Literature and Scottish Ethnology as well as English Literature, and I took advantage of the convenience of living in the Pleasance. I had wonderful flat mates and we fully enjoyed everything the city had to offer from art galleries to pub crawls, concerts, and plays.
I danced in the university’s staging of Leonard Bernstein’s The Mass and had a hilarious language disconnect when during a run through without props, the director gave a stage direction to “put on your berry.” I saw others motioning to put something on their heads so I did the same, wondering why at this point in the play were were supposed to have berries on our heads. When we had the dress rehearsal, I doubled over in laughter when I realized that the Scottish pronunciation of “beret” was “berry!”
I of course studied Robert Burns, and little did I know that many years later I would be hosting the largest Burns Supper in Connecticut! I helped organize the Burns Supper for the University of Edinburgh Alumni Club of New York for several years. When I moved to the suburbs I couldn’t find a Burns Supper near me so I started one and it grew beautifully.
Your experiences since leaving the University
I travelled in Europe a great deal while a student in Edinburgh, and after graduation when I had the opportunity to join a travel magazine, a whole world opened up to me. My first position was at Condé Nast Traveler ; I also was an editor at Fodor’s Travel Publications, which produces guidebooks, and Travel Agent, a national weekly magazine. In addition, I was responsible for New York City’s official tourism information for seven years. For the last decade I’ve been a freelance writer and editor for publications including Time Out and Frommer’s, and I also provide content for travel industry clients and other businesses. I am a curious person who is passionate about learning about the world. I’ve been to 64 countries and I am particularly proud of having visited all 50 U.S. states by my 30th birthday. My goal is to reach 100 countries.
When I moved to the suburbs I couldn’t find a Burns Supper near me so I started one and it grew beautifully.
Life during Covid-19
When there was no travel during the pandemic, I turned my lens to my own state and wrote a well-received book “Secret Connecticut: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure,” which tells 84 stories that surprise even lifelong residents.
I am working towards finding more steady employment as the life of a freelancer can be unpredictable—especially that of a travel writer during a pandemic!
I wish I had known that it would have been so challenging for me to re-enter the workforce after having children. I started working freelance and part time after having my two children. I began looking for full-time work again after three years and I could not find an opportunity that made financial sense since child care is very expensive. As a result, my resume is full of experience with many companies and styles of writing but I did not have the full-time employment consistency needed to continue along a path of financial health and independence.
Stasha's travel blog (external ink)