Ten receive Fulbright awards to teach, conduct research abroad

Nine members of the Class of 2020 and one member of the Class of 2019 have been selected for the prestigious program that offers opportunities for recent graduates in more than 140 countries.

Nine members of the Class of 2020 and one alumna have received awards from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to teach English in a foreign country or conduct research abroad.

The largest exchange program in the country, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study. Recent graduates and graduate students undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary teaching worldwide. Founded in 1946, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Fulbright Program to alter plans for award winners this year. While most Fulbright programs typically start in the summer of fall, due to the pandemic and U.S. Department of State travel restrictions, most programs will begin no earlier than Jan. 1, 2021.

Elon has been repeatedly recognized for the number of its alumni who participate in the Fulbright Program as teachers and researchers. In 2019, five Elon alumni accepted their awards to teach English in foreign countries through the program. This year, 15 current students were named semifinalists for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Receiving awards this year are:

Sarah Barron ‘20

A Spanish major with teaching licensure, Barron has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Spain. She will build upon experiences in 2018 and 2019 studying in Spain and Mexico, fulfilling a dream she has had since her first year at Elon when she heard an alumna from the Teaching Fellows program discuss her experiences in Guatemala as a Fulbright grant recipient.

“I am truly honored to be selected for the Fulbright Program,” Barron says. “I am incredibly grateful for the ways in which Elon University has helped me grow and chase the goal that I formed on that day.”

Barron is excited for the opportunity to grow linguistically and professionally while creating lasting connections with the community in Madrid, where she will be teaching.

Junie Burke ‘20

Burke has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Spain after majoring in human service studies and strategic communications at Elon. Originally from Raleigh, N.C., Burke is an Honors Fellow, Presidential Scholarship recipient and Odyssey Program scholar who was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

“This award is a testament to the relentless support I’ve received from my family, friends and academic mentors at Elon,” Burke said. “I hope to return from this experience not only with a more grounded appreciation for Spain and its culture, but also with a more evolved understanding of how to navigate cultural differences in pursuit of storytelling and peace.”

At Elon, Burke has pursued research in psychotherapeutic interventions, pediatric oncology, integrative care and psychosocial standards of care. She anticipates pursuing a graduate degree at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work following the conclusion of the Fulbright program.

Anneliese Daggett ‘20

A history major with teacher licensure who minored in policy studies, Daggett has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Vietnam, a country where she studied during Winter Term in 2018. A recipient of the Presidential Scholarship, Daggett is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta and Kappa Delta Pi honors societies who has focused her research on education advocacy and policy.

Daggett notes that at the conclusion of her Winter Term program in Vietnam two years ago, she was able to visit the orphanage where she had been placed as an infant. “After a long conversation with the nuns that covered many topics, the pair of themes that seem to be part of the talk involved family and the importance of a good education,” Daggett said. “I walked away from that exchange intrigued by the differences between the approaches of Vietnamese and U.S. educational plans with a strong commitment and personal passion to fight for universal access to quality education.”

Following her experience with the Fulbright program, Daggett plans to pursue a master of arts in educational transformation at Georgetown University.

Emily Ford ‘20

An elementary education major minoring in Spanish, Ford has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Spain. A Teaching Fellow and member of the Phi Eta Sigma, Omicron Delta Kappa, Sigma Delta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, Ford studied abroad in Argentina and has conducted research on preparing students for studying abroad, and for reintegrating after studying abroad.

“Inspired by my research, I wish to continue to explore global learning and cultural competence through further study, and this program provides an incredible first-hand opportunity for continued study while I live abroad,” Ford said. “it is an incredible opportunity for a future teacher to explore what teaching and learning is in another country, to explore teaching English as a second language, and to learn from peers who have had different educational experiences than I have had.”

Taylor Garner ‘20

Garner, who majored in international and global studies, has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Colombia. An Honors Fellow and Rawls Scholar, Garner has studied abroad in Argentina and Palestine while conducting research into women’s intergenerational memories during political violence in the two countries. She says she fell in love with learning about different languages and cultures growing up as her parents served in the Peace Corps.

“I have taught English all over the world because I believe language acquisition is an essential tool for building relationships and affording opportunities for children to succeed later in life,” Garner said. “I am thrilled to have an opportunity to continue creating relationships and mobilizing college students through language acquisition in Colombia as a Fulbright recipient.”

Garner hopes to attend graduate school following her experience in the Fulbright Program with a focus on international development, with plans to eventually become a foreign service officer.

Kathryn Gerry ‘20

An international and global studies and political science double-major, Gerry has received a Fulbright Award to study and conduct research in Bahrain. A Multifaith Scholar and recipient of the PERCS Outstanding Ethnography Award, Gerry has studied abroad in India as she pursued research on worker migration from the South India state of Kerala to the Gulf and how that impacted the social, economic and religious landscapes in the region.

“Throughout my undergraduate career, I took classes about interreligious encounters and diverse regions, and fell in love with studying how people interact across difference and blend their beliefs and practices across regions,” Gerry said. “I believe I will continue to grow and learn while I manage living and conducting research in Bahrain through this Fulbright Award.”

Gerry hopes to pursue a career working for the federal government in Washington, D.C., or at an embassy abroad. “Exposure to Middle Eastern culture and the ability to develop Arabic proficiency would be an asset for these professions because communication and understanding is imperative for effectively navigating the challenges of policy drafting and implementation as well as international diplomacy,” she said.

Sara Gostomski ‘20

Gostomski has majored in elementary and special education with a minor in Spanish and has received a Fulbright award to teach English in Ecuador. A Teaching Fellow and member of the Sigma Delta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies, she has studied abroad in Argentina. Her research interests including least restrictive environments for students with autism as well as social emotional learning and how community gardens can impact health.

Her study abroad experience in Argentina increased her interest in exploring and better understanding different cultures. “The Fulbright Award will provide me with not only necessary teaching experience but also cultural experience that I will be sure to share with my future students for many years to come,” Gostomski said. “I expect to grow in tolerance and understanding of this culture and to learn more about teaching in a different academic system and from teaching English as a second language.”

Participating in the Fulbright program will be a step toward her career goal of becoming a special education resource room teacher for an elementary school.

Franceska Karasinski ‘20

A middle grades education major with a concentration in social studies, Karasinski has received a Fulbright award to teach English in South Korea. A Teaching Fellow and recipient of the Presidential Scholarship, she is a member of the Pi Gamma Mu, Phi Alpha Theta and Psi Chi honor societies. Karasinski studied in Oxford, England, and has conducted research into international education and literacy.

“I believe that this will be a fantastic opportunity to experience a culture different from my own,” Karasinski said. “I hope that by spending some time abroad exploring the world, I will be able to broaden my horizons as a teacher and a person.”

Karasinski plans to be a classroom teacher and pursue a master’s degree in education. She notes that spending time in South Korea “studying the history and culture of another country first-hand will enable me to better teach about the global events that encompass world history.”

Kristen O’Neill ‘19

O’Neill graduated in 2019 with a degree in elementary and special education and has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Greece. She was an Honors Fellow and recipient of the Presidential Scholarship, and studied abroad in Malawi, Thailand and Peru while at Elon. Since graduating, she has been teaching in Madrid, Spain, as an English language assistant with a multilingual education development and support organization.

O’Neill notes that the several weeks she spent teaching and learning with three 12-year-old boys at a primary school in Malawi during a 2017 study abroad program were some of the most rewarding of her life, and inspired her academically and professionally. “It has been a dream of mine since high school to be selected as a Fulbright scholar, but as I’ve grown as a person and an educator, it has become clear to me that this opportunity enables me to pursue both my personal and professional passions,” O’Neill said. “I am extremely passionate about teaching, learning about and living in other cultures, and broadening mine and my students’ perspectives as global citizens.”

After the conclusion of the Fulbright program, she anticipates teaching in a public school in North Carolina and pursuing postgraduate studies in teaching English to speakers of other languages and reading education.

Jacob Stern ‘20

A history and economics major, Stern has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in South Korea. He is an Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellow who has conducted research into the effect of new school openings on student achievement in pre-existing schools, and the effects of Jewish culture on the Lodz Ghetto in Poland in the early 1940s.

Stern says his experience working with a fifth grader in Alamance Burlington School System has increased his drive to become an educator, and he looks forward to how his experience through the Fulbright Program will move him toward that goal. “Immersing myself in the successful South Korean education system will provide me new pedagogical insights and practices that I will fuse with my prior knowledge and experiences to better my teaching craft,” Stern said.

Looking ahead, Stern hopes to follow his time in the classroom as a teacher with a move to school administration, with the goal of eventually helping craft educational policy.

Elon students and recent alumni interested in the Fulbright program can visit this page to learn more about Elon’s internal application process. The deadline to submit intent to apply materials for the upcoming application cycle is June 1, 2020.