Gaelen grew up in a small town on Whidbey Island, in Washington State. She received her B.A. in International Relations from Western Washington University in 2010. From a young age, Gaelen aspired to be a positive influence in the lives of others. Throughout her life, this desire prompted extensive engagement with humanitarian causes, eventually leading her to the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). She obtained a M.A. in International Policy and Development from MIIS in 2015.
Gaelen enjoys snowboarding and hiking in the beautiful Cascade Mountain Range near where she grew up. Her affinity for mountains made the transition to the Andes especially smooth. She appreciates the welcoming nature of the communities, and the small town atmosphere of the Sacred Valley.