Eight selected to teach, research abroad through Fulbright Program

These current students and alumni have been selected for the prestigious program that offers opportunities for recent graduates in more than 140 countries.

Three members of the Class of 2021 and five members of the Class of 2020 have been selected to teach English in a foreign country or conduct research abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. An additional five members of this year’s graduating class have also been selected as alternates for Fulbright awards.

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 continued to disrupt the Fulbright Program this year, which saw 16 Elon students and alumni named as Fulbright Award semifinalists in February. Many Fulbright recipients selected in spring 2020, including many from Elon, saw their programs delayed or deferred to the 2021-2022 year due to the pandemic. The unprecedented decision by the Fulbright Program to allow 2020 award recipients to defer their awards to 2021-22 meant there were fewer awards available for this year’s semifinalists.

Elon has been repeatedly recognized for the number of its alumni who participate in the Fulbright Program as teachers and researchers, and this spring was named a top-producer of Fulbright students for the sixth time since 2012.

Receiving awards this year are:

Dory Boudett ‘21

Boudett, who majored in elementary education with a minor in Spanish, has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Spain. A Teaching Fellow, Periclean Scholar and member of the Sigma Delta Pi, Omicron Kappa Delta, Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies, she has conducted research at Elon into student perceptions of grading with research mentor Paula Patch, senior lecturer in English. During her time as an Elon student, Boudett has studied at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, and in Peru, and served as a tutor in the It Takes A Village project at Elon.

“This award means that I can understand education in a global context,” Boudett said. “It means that I will be given the opportunity to immerse myself in the Spanish language and culture and be challenged to grow my confidence and independence. I am thankful for the opportunity to leave my comfort zone and become the globally-minded educator I have always pictured being.”

Boudett views the experience ahead as a “perfect transition” between her study of elementary education at Elon and a future career as a K-5 teacher or an English as a Second Language teacher in the United States. It’s an opportunity to become entirely fluent in Spanish as well as to become integrated into a foreign culture.

“I will be challenged to represent the United States as authentically and honestly as possible as well as to listen and learn about Spain from a diverse community,” Boudett said.

Maggie Cornejo ‘21

Cornejo majored in strategic communications and Spanish at Elon and has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Spain through the Fulbright program. A Communications Fellow and LAGRANT Foundation Scholar, Cornejo is a member of the Sigma Delta Pi, Omicron Delta Kappa and Lambda Pi Eta honor societies. She served as a student coordinator at El Centro, a leader in the Unity in Communications program, a tutor in the It Takes a Village project, assistant agency director at Live Oak Communications and co-president of the Elon American Advertising Federation. Her study abroad experiences have taken her to Spain, Morocco and Portugal.

While studying in Seville, Spain, she volunteered as an English language and cultural assistant, which involved teaching five hours a week at a high school in the neighborhood where she was living. It was an experience that fueled her love of teaching, she said. Her selection for a Fulbright award caps a pursuit she began as a sophomore when she first attended an informational session on national and international fellowships.

“I am excited and motivated to return to Spain and continue bridge-building, continuing the spirit of cultural reciprocity that inspired my passion for teaching,” Cornejo said. “I will push myself to create meaningful relationships with students, professors and community members. I will aim to create a strong culture of mentorship between my students and myself, and I will learn how to be an empathetic leader, communicator and cultural ambassador.”

Following her Fulbright experience, Cornejo will become an employee engagement communications associate at AXIS Capital in New York. She has the long-term goal of leading a nonprofit organization that mentors and amplifies young talent in the communications industry.

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 was a member of the Phi Alpha Theta and Kappa Delta Pi honor societies and focused her research on education advocacy and policy.

Daggett notes that at the conclusion of her Winter Term program in Vietnam three 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.”

Daggett is currently completing a master of arts in educational transformation at Georgetown University. Following her experience with the Fulbright program, she plans to teach history at the high school level.

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 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 is currently completing a master’s in Security Studies at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Studies. She 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 studied abroad in Argentina. Her research interests include the development of less 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.

Kristen O’Neill ‘19

O’Neill graduated 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 will pursue an M.Ed. in Reading Education with a dual certification in English Language Learning at Vanderbilt University Peabody School of Education.

Andrea Peters ‘21

Peters, who majored in international business and minored in Spanish and peace and conflict studies, has received a Fulbright Award to teach English in Spain. She received Presidential and Elon Engagement scholarships at Elon and was a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience scholar. She directed and produced the Elon Tiny Dorm music series, was a DJ, promotions director and a music journalist for WSOE 89.3 and served as a conversation leader for El Centro. Her undergraduate research explored the relationship between critical race theory and hip hop philosophy, with Professor of Philosophy Stephen Bloch-Schulman serving as her mentor. She studied in Spain while an Elon student.

“As a student of the global music business, this Fulbright Award offers me a unique opportunity to strengthen my connections abroad and experience the foreign music industry,” Peters said. “I hope to someday be able to work as an ambassador for foreign artists entering the United States music industry, and I believe my Fulbright experience will foster the skills necessary to do that.”

She has been accepted to the Berklee College of Music Master of Arts in Global Entertainment and Music Business program in Valencia, Spain, and hopes to work in artist marketing and management and talent scouting.

Five members of the Class of 2021 were named alternates for Fulbright awards this year. They are:

  • Griffin Barriss ’21, alternate for award to teach English in Kosovo
  • Maggie Davis ’21, alternate for award to teach English in Malaysia
  • Sydney Hallisey ’21, alternate for award to study English in Israel
  • India Kirssin ’21, alternate for award to teach English in Spain
  • Angela Myers ’21, alternate for award to teach English in Spain