Senior Cortney Hill first considered the idea of applying for Fulbright when he asked Charlie Harned ‘16 what he was doing after graduation during a pick-up game of basketball.
“He said, ‘I’m going to go teach English’ and he was explaining a little more about it, and basically he told me I had to go talk to [Mariangela Maguire],” Hill said.
Hill is one of the four Knox students who received a Fulbright grant in order to teach or do research abroad, alongside Emily Malec ‘16 and seniors Raeann Boero and Dakota Stipp.
Knox had the highest number of applicants and recipients this year since the beginning of the Fulbright program in 1951, with 16 applicants and four recipients. In the past few years, Knox has typically had three Fulbright recipients.
The Fulbright Program is run through the United States Department of State and has several different programs for scholars and students. Fulbright sponsors recent college graduates’ international experiences for teaching English and doing independent research projects. Most programs are highly competitive, depending on the country and specific requirements. The majority of English Teaching Assistant placements last between nine months and a year, but can sometimes be renewed for up to three years.
Boero and Hill are both teaching in Malaysia and Malec will be teaching in South Korea through the English Teaching Assistant Program.
Hill points to his experience studying abroad in Beijing in the winter and spring of 2016 to why he was drawn to English Teaching Assistant Program. He originally wanted to apply to the new National Geographic Fulbright, where students work on videography projects abroad with the company. After realizing he didn’t have quite the portfolio requirements, he turned to the ETA program. After going through all the different countries, Malaysia stood out to him.
“One sentence did it for me. It was the fact that besides the English teaching assistant part, which all of them have … they said they wanted five to 10 hours of extracurricular activities, and for me that said they don’t only want me as an English teaching assistant, they want me to also be a part of the community. They wanted me to really be involved, not in the classroom, but outside the classroom,” Hill said.
Hill has worked with children in several capacities, including working at College for Kids, teaching and hanging out with kids in Beijing and teaching swimming lessons at the YMCA in Galesburg, which he connected to teaching kids in the future in Malaysia.
“You get to interact with them and they get to learn about you, you get to see them grow … so that’s what I’m most excited about. To see them grow in their English, and in other ways personally, and other ways I can help them grow. And to see the reverse side of that. Because I know they’re going to help me grow in ways that I don’t even know yet,” he said.
Boero also chose to apply to the Malaysia program for a similar reason.
“There’s an opportunity to get to teach music or art or things like that. That was really important to me because I’ve been really involved in music since I’ve been at Knox … so that was also what sort of drew me to that particular program,” Boero said.
Boero works at the Kleine Center for Community Service and credits her success in the application process to her work with kids through there, as well as her immense international experience, including studying abroad in Costa Rica, interning in India and taking mission trips to several countries in high school.
Malec has known that she wanted to teach for a long time. As an Asian Studies major, she has immersed herself in Asian culture through her research project studying Korean Pop girl groups and studying abroad in Japan in Fall Term of 2016.
“It’s just something I’ve always been interested in. I’ve been taking classes here how to teach ESL because it’s so different from teaching other subjects,” she said.
Malec has taught English in a variety of locations, from Japan to her high school to Carl Sandburg College.
“I think something they said when I had my Fulbright interview was, ‘You’ve had a consistent kind of attachment to teaching,’ which is my biggest advice when people say, ‘How do I get this’ is just if you really want it, you show that you’re into it, get the experience, do work, have the passion,” she said.
Interim Director of the Vovis Center Mariangela Maguire, who helped all of the students with their Fulbright applications, gives similar advice to students looking to apply for an English Teaching Assistantship. While students do not necessarily need to know the language of the country to which they are applying — especially if it’s an Asian country Ñ they should have some sort of experience with teaching.
“Fulbright really doesn’t care that you’ve taught English, they care that you’ve taught something to somebody. I will say that the tutoring opportunities through Knox and the Galesburg community are tremendous and I think are very compelling when they’re told in a Fulbright application, so that’s one thing,” Maguire said.
The other type of Fulbright is a Research or Study grant, which Stipp applied for through a partnership with Queen Mary’s University in London, where he was accepted into the Master of Science program in Sound and Music Computing.
However, Stipp declined the offer to pursue an MFA in Sound Design and Theatre at Yale University.
“I’m sad that I don’t get to do both of these things. That’s pretty hard, especially since I went through the application process for both, which wasn’t easy,” Stipp said.
His advice to students looking to apply for Fulbright include doing research through ASSET or a seniors honors project and to utilize the resources in the Vovis Center.
“Mariangela was an invaluable resource. … The Vovis center in general was extremely helpful with the application. Mariangela went above and beyond what she needed to do so that was very helpful,” he said.
The other recipients echoed Stipp’s thankfulness to Maguire, whose last day working at Knox is May 31.
“It was pretty stressful actually, but I couldn’t have done it without Mariangela Maguire, she’s fantastic and I’m really sad that she’s leaving this year, and she was the same way for all 16 applicants. She was just as attentive to every single person. She really put herself out there to be available and accessible to everybody,” Boero said.
Maguire will be moving on from Knox in order to become a life coach, utilizing her Ph.D. in Communications.
“It’s been a great opportunity at Knox, I’ve loved working with the Knox students but it’s important to have my own thing,” Maguire said.
She said, however, that going through her fourth and last Fulbright process with Knox students was emotional and worthwhile.
“This is a wonderful job and I always say you work with the most interesting students on campus and they’re excited about something. They’re very forward-looking and future-directed and have incredible stories to tell. É I think the most satisfying part of my job is when they complete the application process and whether they get the award or not, they feel like they’ve grown as a person,” she said.
Students who are interested in applying for a Fulbright can attend information sessions on Tuesday, April 25 at 4 p.m. in Alumni Hall 117 or Friday, April 28 at 12 p.m. in Alumni Hall 219.