Jenna Mason ’16, a special education and middle grades education double major from Wilton, CT, will spend a year teaching English in Thailand as part of a federal program that promotes mutual understanding and good will between U.S. citizens and citizens of other nations.
By Sarah Collins ’18
An Elon University senior with extensive teaching and cross-cultural experience will spend twelve months in Thailand as a cultural ambassador for the United States with support from a 2016-2017 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
Mason has a range of teaching experience garnered through several practicums, three internships at Eagle Hill School for students with language-based learning disabilities in Greenwich, CT, and a semester of student teaching at Clover Garden School in Burlington, NC. She has also adapted to other cultures and school systems through studies in Costa Rica and Spain; work with special needs students in England; and civic engagement training as a Periclean Scholar, where she and her cohort work to build sustainable partnerships with local and Honduran partners.
Jenna was motivated to teach abroad in part by her desire to relate to her future students who are new to the United States and don’t speak the language. “This award is an opportunity for me to grow as an individual and citizen,” Mason said. “I don’t think I could be luckier than to have the opportunity to do so in a country nicknamed ‘the land of the smiles.’”
Outside of the classroom, Jenna is a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, a Panhellenic recruitment counselor, and a Campus Kitchen volunteer. Jenna also has ten years of theater experience in acting, stage management, and assistant directing, and plans to draw on these skills to encourage her students to use English in a dramatic setting.
April Post, Senior Lecturer in Spanish and the mentor for Jenna’s Periclean Scholars class, notes that “Jenna is one of the most selfless and genuine people I know. I am certain that her experience working in different countries, her work with our Honduran partners and her work with immigrants in our local community have provided her with the training and individual awareness to make a superb impression as a representative of the United States. She is an inspiration.”
Following her Fulbright experience, Mason hopes to teach special education while pursuing a degree in speech and language pathology. “This experience will prepare me to better advocate at a higher level for the needs of English language learners in schools in the United States,” she said.
Mason is one of over 1,900 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2015-2016 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.
Since its establishment under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Jenna is the daughter of Derrel and Matt Mason of Wilton, Connecticut, and a 2012 alumna of Wilton High School in Wilton, Connecticut.
Elon students and recent alums interested in the Fulbright program or other nationally competitive fellowships are invited to visit the National and International Fellowships Office in Powell building or by calling (336) 278-5749.