Seven receive Fulbright awards to teach English abroad

A record 11 Elon students and alums have been awarded Fulbright grants this spring to teach English or conduct research, adding to Elon’s reputation as a top producer of Fulbright award winners.

Six members of the Class of 2018 and a 2016 alumna have received awards to spend nine months to a year teaching English in a foreign country with support from Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships.

This spring saw 11 Elon seniors and alums selected to receive Fulbright awards, the most the university has seen in a single year. Along with these students who will be teaching English in Spain and Germany, three Elon seniors and one alum received Fulbright Study/Research Grants.

The accomplishments of these recipients add to Elon’s reputation as a top producer of Fulbright Award winners.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Congress established the program in 1946 “to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in over 160 countries worldwide, with English teaching assistants serving as cultural ambassadors for the U.S. as well as teaching English in the community.

Isabelle “Izzy” Fagen

An elementary education major, Fagen will spend a year teaching English in Spain, a country where she studied abroad during her time at Elon. She looks forward to becoming bilingual and exploring more fully how students of varying backgrounds learn a second language.

“This award is an opportunity for me to grow as an individual, represent my country and give all I have to the students I will be working with,” Fagen says. “Fulbright represents a leap into the unknown and an opportunity to develop my understanding of the life of those in the Asturias region of Spain, and beyond.”

Originally from Manhasset, New York, Fagen is a Teaching Fellow who has served in leadership roles with New Student Orientation, coordinated ESL tutoring, participated in practicums at local elementary schools and mentored through Alamance Girls in Motion. She’s a member of the Sigma Delta Pi Spanish honor society and Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society.

“To me, becoming an English teaching assistant in Spain will allow me to flourish into my full self and develop relationships with people in that amazing land,” Fagen says. “After experiencing Spanish culture through my host family in Toledo, Spain, as I studied abroad, I am eager to learn more about other regions of Spain.”

With mentor Scott Morrison, assistant professor of education, Fagen has focused her research on the connectedness of students to nature and its impact on academics and engagement.

“Izzy has consistently exceeded my expectations,” Morrison says. “Her coursework, undergraduate research and international experiences have prepared her to do transformational work in education. Izzy has taken advantage of every opportunity afforded her at Elon. Her ambition, curiosity, and passion are unmatched and will continually propel her to success.”

Megan Graves

Originally from Vienna, Virginia, Graves has majored in psychology and Spanish at Elon with a minor in early childhood education. Following graduation, she will be teaching English in Spain as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

At Elon she’s been recognized as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish), Pi Gamma Mu (Social Sciences) and Psi Chi (Psychology) honor societies, and has taken a leadership role as co-president of Sigma Delta Pi.

Study abroad has been an important part of her Elon experience, with time spent in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Ghana. “When I studied abroad in Argentina, I was able to enhance my Spanish language and learn a distinct dialect,” Graves says. “Getting this award and teaching in Spain will allow me to build upon my dialectical skills and prepare for a career in working with an eclectic group of Spanish-speakers in the U.S.”

Alexis Franzese, associate professor of sociology, has served as a research mentor to Graves, and anticipates her thriving during her year in the Fulbright program. “She has a maturity that is beyond her years and is able to be open to the views of others and express her perspectives respectfully,” Franzese says. “It was a true delight to mentor Megan over the last three years. She seeks clarification as needed, but also trusts herself and her judgment. She will ponder an ambiguous situation and then choose a path of action based on careful reflection. I have no doubts that this ability, and her sensitivity to the experiences of others, will fuel her success in the program.”

Following her time in Spain, Graves plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology with a focus on autism spectrum disorder in young children, particularly in Spanish-speaking communities. In her research with mentor Alexis Franzese, Graves has studied how language impacts assessments of autism spectrum disorder in young children, and how to provide multicultural assessments and therapy strategies for Spanish-speakers.

She views her time in Spain as an opportunity to hone her pedagogical skills along with her intercultural communication and linguistic skills as she works toward becoming a clinical psychologist.

“In addition to the academic and career-oriented outcomes of this opportunity, living and working in a new country by myself will be a unique challenge that promises personal growth,” Graves says.

Bryanna Schoenblatt

A Spanish major with K-12 Teacher Licensure, Schoenblatt will be moving to Spain to teach English with the support of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

“I am an aspiring high school Spanish teacher, so having the opportunity to travel to a Spanish-speaking country and teach while I am there will greatly benefit my future,” Schoenblatt says. “I will be able to take back what I learn from being immersed in the language and culture and share it with my future students in the classroom to create an environment of cultural competency.”

Schoenblatt, who is originally from St. Charles, Illinois, is a Teaching Fellow and a recipient of the Jane Mitchell-Manolita Buck Award and Scholarship from the Foreign Language Association of North Carolina. She’s a member of the Kappa Delta Pi international honor society in education, the Sigma Delta Pi Spanish honor society and Phi Kappa Phi honor society. She has worked as an ESL tutor, volunteered with Parents Night Out and has studied abroad in Toledo, Spain.

Working with mentor April Post, senior lecturer in Spanish and assistant director of Project Pericles, Schoenblatt conducted research on the acclimation of international students to Elon.

“Bryanna has embraced the teaching profession and I am so pleased that she will have the opportunity to gain additional experience in Spain, a country that has captured her heart,” Post says. “She is passionate, gracious and demonstrates an eagerness to learn that will serve her well.”

Schoenblatt says she is looking forward to the interactions she will have with her students in Spain and the opportunity to learn from them their customs and traditions.

“The four months I spent studying abroad in Toledo completely opened my eyes and helped me grow as an individual, so spending a full school year in Spain will help me become more independent and culturally competent,” Schoenblatt says. “I will grow in my language abilities, as well as my teaching abilities, because I will be working alongside experienced teachers and will be able to learn from their teaching methodologies.”

Melody Titus

A native of High Point, N.C., Titus has majored in mathematics with K-12 Teacher Licensure with a minor in Spanish. She will be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Galicia, Spain after graduation.

“I am so honored to have received this award and I feel so blessed for this opportunity to work with students in Spain and grow as a member of our global community,” Titus says.

Titus is a Teaching Fellow and member of the Kappa Delta Pi education honor society, Sigma Delta Pi Spanish honor society and the Pi Mu Epsilon mathematics honor society. She studied abroad in Spain in 2016 and completed a Winter Term Study USA course in Washington, D.C. in 2017.

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Aaron Trocki has served as Titus’s research mentor, and says he’s thrilled to see that her passion for education will be honored with this Fulbright Award. “She is open to experiencing and understanding various cultures while maintaining a sense of groundedness in who she is and her priorities,” Trocki says. “I expect her to thrive in the different settings she will be a part of in the near future, and we look forward to Melody’s many contributions as a representative of the Elon community.”

She believes strongly in the importance of learning about other world cultures, and views studying foreign languages as a way to connect with other people across cultures. “Through this opportunity with Fulbright I will develop as an educator of a foreign language as I also grow in my cross-cultural understanding,” Titus says. “I will bring the perspective and skills I gain from this experience with me as I continue to pursue teaching English as a foreign language.”

Madeline “Maddy” Wetterhall

Wetterhall has majored in biology at Elon with a concentration in Foundations for Medical Sciences, and will be teaching English in Germany with the support of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Originally from Atlanta, Wetterhall is an Elon College Fellow, a recipient of the Jane M. Baird Pre-Med scholarship and a Presidential Scholarship. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

At Elon, she has been a member of the Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity, an experience that has offered the opportunity to work with Safe Rides, Parents Night Out, Special Fridays and at Loy Farm and the Timberlake Earth Sanctuary. She studied abroad in Heidelberg, Germany, and served as treasurer of the German Club.

“It’s not just that Maddy is one of the finest students I’ve ever taught. It’s not just her powerful language abilities, intellectual curiosity, and work ethic,” says Scott Windham, associate professor of German. “Above all, it’s her human empathy that makes Maddy stand out: her service to others, her commitment to global citizenship, her willingness to work with people of diverse viewpoints, and her sense of purpose.”

Working with mentor Linda Niedziela, associate professor of biology, Wetterhall has studied the impact of antiepileptic drugs on the cognition of zebrafish during the early developmental time period, and plans to attend medical school following her time teaching in Germany.

As a teenager, Wetterhall found herself helping her father as he suffered from a serious medical condition, and it was an experience that made her realize she wanted to go into medicine. “I know firsthand how devastating a medical catastrophe can be for an individual and for a family—how a chronic illness can suddenly change the course of one’s life,” she says. “If I can somehow help ease someone else’s devastation, it will have been worth all the hard work and sacrifice it takes to become a doctor.”

Working as a teacher in Germany, she hopes to promote mutual understanding between different cultures while continuing to further her own compassion, a lifelong love of learning and the ability to teach others. “With the hope of someday working in international contexts with Doctors Without Borders, coping with cultural differences in adverse situations will also be required,” she says. “My work as a Fulbright student will enhance my skills as a physician by exposing me to other diverse groups of people and challenging me to further improve my interpersonal communication skills through education and service in the German community.”

Samantha Perry, also a member of the Class of 2018, was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach in India, but declined the award in order to pursue an MA in Clinical Social Work at the University of Chicago.

Claire “Robin” Gottlieb, a member of the class of 2016, was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach in Morocco, but will decline the award in order to pursue a two-year teaching position in Special Education at Luanda International School in Angola, Africa.

Students and recent alumni interested in Fulbright U.S. Student Grants and other nationally competitive awards are invited to contact the National and International Fellowships Office.

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