By Emily Press
Congratulations to UVM Alumni and now Fulbright recipients Leah Campbell, Justin Abbott and Lauren Fedowa!
Leah Campbell ’16: Teaching Assistantship, Taiwan
Your classroom looks very different from that of the generation before yours, and barely resembles the classrooms from the preceding generation. These days, elementary school students navigate the internet better than most septuagenarians; middle school teachers have networks of syllabi on chrome-books and the cloud; and social media connects students from all corners of the globe in real time.
Leah Campbell understands the climate of education is evolving, and she is thrilled to pair her passions for global studies and education as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in Taiwan. Leah believes the best educators are those who widen their own world views and let their personal experiences flow into the classroom: “as an educator you need new experiences in your early years. If you stay in a bubble you will not grow or be pushed by new ideas and philosophies. Teaching in another country gives you perspective on how different educational systems work. I’m interested in seeing new ways to teach.” In addition to learning about Taiwan educational systems, Leah plans to implement her own physical education and health program at her host school, with an emphasis on Yoga and outdoor activities. Leah hopes these health initiatives – common elements in Vermont schools – will complement traditional Taiwanese education; and she hopes the pedagogical methods she learns in Taiwan will translate back to Vermont education reciprocally.
As a student, Leah started in Global Studies, then switched into the more practically-focused Early Childhood Special Education program. She had always liked the idea of being an educator – inspired in part by her mother’ work, and her own strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives. Outside of coursework, Leah completed two practicums at the UVM Children’s Center and spent her senior spring semester teaching in a South Burlington public high school. She applied for a Fulbright in Thailand as a senior, and was not accepted, but she saw it as a blessing in disguise. For the next two years Leah taught in Swanson, Vermont. Teaching there gave her the confidence to reapply for a Fulbright in Taiwan, to which she was accepted. Pathways to success are rarely linear. Leah’s story is a great example of how, with an open mind, a hitch along the way can turn out to be a push in the right direction.
Justin Abbott ’18: Teaching Assistantship in South Korea
“Korean barbeque, concerts, cultural energy and Soju” were just a few things Justin looked forward to experiencing as a Teaching Assistant in South Korea, when applying for a Fulbright. It was popular culture, namely K-pop, that pulled Justin in to learning Korean as a UVM sophomore and sent him on his way to a Fulbright senior year. Aside from the element of cultural immersion, Justin is giving back: he gets “to be in charge of group of kids and has the opportunity to impact students’ lives during critical periods for language acquisition.”
Justin was passionate about mentoring younger undergraduates through extra-curricular activities at UVM; and as a senior, he took on a more academic mentorship role as a TA in Biochemistry. He was a member of the Boys and Girls ELL club, the East Coast Asian Student Union and a Pharmacy Technician, majoring in Neuroscience and Pharmacology. After his Fulbright, Justin plans to become a neurologist, and perhaps revisit Korea. The cultural competencies and practical understanding of how brains acquire languages he’s gaining in South Korea will serve Justin well as a physician. On a more personal note, Justin is reconnecting with his roots: he was adopted and raised in America, but Justin was born in South Korea. Justin has been interested in Korean culture his whole life (he’s taken Tae Kwon Doe lessons since the age of seven) and hopes to track down his birth parents while he’s abroad.
Lauren Fedewa MA ’18: Research Award, Hanover, Germany
Little known fact: The University of Vermont is home to one of the world’s most robust Holocaust Studies programs. It’s what brought Lauren Fedewa to UVM as a graduate student. Lauren graduated from the University of Maryland in 2015 as a double major in German and History. After hearing about the UVM Miller Center for Holocaust Studies (at the Holocaust Museum in D.C.) she emailed her proposal for graduate studies to four of the center’s renowned faculty (history professors Dr. Jonathan Huener, Dr. Alan Steinweis, Dr. Steven Zdatny and Dr. Francis Nicosia). “Don’t be afraid to send a resume and a research proposal” Lauren advises hopeful researchers. She was accepted as a grad student under Huener, and had a great experience: they met “throughout the entire process – the proposal, the bibliography, and several rounds of editing.” Lauren earned her MA at UVM and wrote her thesis on Foreign Child-Care Facilities in Nazi Germany.
Working in labs and as a TA at UVM helped her map out post-graduate goals. She wants “to become a public historian and work at a museum, in programming and outreach.” Lauren applied to the DAAD Program and the Fulbright Scholarship as an undergraduate but was not accepted. Reflecting back, she realized her initial “project scope was too large” and needed a narrower focus. Lauren was much more confident in the specificity and global perspective of her Fulbright proposal the second time around. She recommends future applicants “consider what it means to be an ambassador and the cultural connection aspect of the scholarship. You’re not there for your personal goals, you’re there to interact with the local community.”
As a Fulbright scholar, Lauren is studying the development and management of German foreign child-care facilities during World War II, with the Historisches Seminar at the Leibniz University in Hanover, Germany. The access she has to rare archives is one of the biggest motivations behind her application, alongside the opportunity to teach and tutor undergrads, volunteer at German museums, and be immersed “in a German University and community.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program was founded in 1947, on the principles of international cooperation, and has since facilitated over 360,000 opportunities for work and study abroad. Funding comes from U.S. Congress and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and is the largest U.S. exchange program providing grants for recent graduates, master and doctoral candidates and young professionals in over 140 countries worldwide.
The Fulbright Program offers three types of scholarships: Open Study/Research Awards, English Teaching Assistant Awards, and Fully-funded Graduate Degrees.
For help building a resume, see the Career Center in the Hub (100 Davis). Open office hours run from 10 am to 4 pm on Tuesdays. We ask that applicants have their resumes reviewed at the Hub prior to booking an appointment for fellowship advising with FOUR.
For help with application materials for Fulbright Scholarships or DAAD Rise visit FOUR at the Hive (University Heights North on Athletic Campus, Suite 017). Open office hours at the Hive are Thursdays from 1 pm to 4 pm.