Humans of WHS: Christine Collins

From Traveling the World to Now


Pamir Canan

Christine Collins encompasses the College and Career Center and everything within it.

The pandemic has been felt especially hard for Christine Collins, who has been accustomed to living in a mask-free world where she can freely travel internationally. Born a travel enthusiast, Collins has been a crucial part of the Wilton High School community for 23 years. She loves her job as the director of the College & Career Resource Center at Wilton High School, but her story and perspective on life truly captivate those around her– both students and colleagues. 

English teacher, Dr. Kristina Harvey, of Wilton High School comments that “there is not one remarkable memory of Mrs. Collins; there’s just a series of generous acts that she has sent my way.” Collins’ joyful outcome on her job reflects on warm interactions with her colleagues throughout the school. 

After kindly helping her with troubleshooting an issue with a student’s letter of recommendation, Dr. Harvey said that, “She would also send me articles that she thought would be interesting for my classroom. She recognized who I was, not only a teacher writing letters of recommendation but also an English teacher and a human being– she saw the full person.” 

Likewise, the students she interacts with on a daily basis share positive thoughts. Ria Raniwala, a 12th-grade student at Wilton High School, said that her first interaction with Mrs. Collins was in an endeavor to decide on a university to apply to during the Early Decision admission cycle. 

“She was so great. She talked me through what I liked and disliked about each school, the different aspects from her perspective, and also talked about it from an academic standpoint,” Raniwala said. “Overall, it was very helpful.”

Students and colleagues can describe Collins with one word –helpful– but her life story and her perspective of life go beyond her current profession.  

Where are you from originally?

“That’s always a very difficult question. I was born in Pennsylvania, but I left Pennsylvania when I was 6 years old for Europe. I really never lived back in the United States again until after my college years. 1970 is when I came back to the United States.”


Where did you spend most of your childhood?

“In France. Literally, all over France. We started off when I was 6, in Germany. From Germany, we left for France. I did most of my education and higher education in France, and then we moved to Holland. From Holland, we went to Bahrain, and from Bahrain, we went to Turkey. After Turkey, we went back to France. I was already living back in the United States, but at that time, my family had moved to Italy.”


How would you describe your childhood living in foreign countries?

“Fabulous. We thought it was a very natural thing to spend a few years in one country, and then pack up and move to a new place, make new friends, learn new languages, and go to new schools. It was very exciting, and it was only exciting in the sense that we didn’t know that there were people in the world that live in one country and stay there forever. The lifestyle that I grew up in continued on after college and joined Pan American Airlines.”


What’s your most remarkable memory from your childhood or teenagehood?

“Well, probably the most exciting part, I guess, was that I was at the University of Paris-Sorbonne during the Revolution of May, which was a student revolution in the 70s. Obviously, schools were shut down and there were lots of riots. I was sort of right in the middle of it at the time due to where I was living. Although we were enjoying time off, it was sort of difficult to live in– much like we were living in this pandemic. Still, I can’t really pick one instance; it was all just a very exciting way to grow up.”


Pamir Canan

What are some of your most valuable life lessons after spending years abroad and interacting with so many people of different backgrounds?

“I think it allowed me to understand foreign cultures, religions, to become very liberal in my thinking, and become accepting of all people and all faiths. I interacted with people of all different faiths and cultures, and I think that made me a better person.”


Did you have career support in high school?

“No. I had high school teachers with whom I had close interactions and counselors who advised our future career plans. I’m not even sure if I had a goal at that point in time. I do know that, as I think back, I always wanted to be in the medical profession. At the time, women were not flocking to medical school. It was a typical scenario of women becoming teachers or nurses. It was a different era and a different generation, but I never pursued that at the time. I became an educator, and this was natural because my entire family was involved in education, which is one of the reasons why we ended up in all of these different places.”

How many jobs did you have before this position?

“Well, I eventually did go back to school and get my nursing degree. I spent a few years in education right after university, and then I joined Pan Am and flew for 12 years. Then, I worked in hospitality in a hotel for about a year or so, then I worked as a private duty nurse for a while. I was also fortunate enough to stay home and raise my daughters. I was involved with the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association), and then I volunteered in the College & Career Resource Center. Things just sort of clicked here; I thought it was a fascinating place to work, and it was interesting to meet and listen to all of the college reps. Afterward, I went to NYU School of Continuing Education to learn about technology.” 


How many institutions did you study at after high school?

“After high school, I went to the University of Paris and did a year in Germany. When I came back to the U.S, I went to NYU to study Arabic, because I was flying into the Arabic countries at the time. I also went to school for nursing and technology. I’ve always been interested in learning.”


How many children and grandchildren do you have, and what would be your best advice to them?

“I have two adult daughters that are married. My older daughter has 2 sons– 10 and 7. And my younger daughter has a son who is 3-years-old. So I have 2 daughters and 3 grandsons. It has been very very exciting learning to be a grandmother to 3 boys. What I have instilled in my daughters, and I think they’ve emparted this to their sons, is just the joy of living. Be adventurous. When I think of what we did as a family – packing up and going to strange places not knowing a language that you had to learn and had to make friends and had to adapt– was quite adventurous. We constantly traveled, because that was just so natural to us. The sad part is that my 3-year-old grandson has not yet been on an airplane, due to COVID. Hopefully, one day, he’ll be able to get on an airplane, without a mask, and be able to travel as we all used to do. It has also been frustrating for me because I haven’t been on an airplane and traveling abroad.”