Carthage raises bar with six 2018-19 Fulbrights
Cementing its status as a pipeline to prestigious fellowships, Carthage reached a new peak as six recent or impending graduates won 2018-19 overseas placements through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
Peter Sproule ’16 received a Fulbright Study/Research Award to expand on previous scholarly work. Five others were awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships to help local educators with language instruction and serve as cultural ambassadors: Amerin Idell ’17, TJ Gaertig ’18, Samantha Johnson ’18, Zoe Rodriguez ’18, and Skye Rutherford ’18.
Supported by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program is the premier source of cultural and educational exchange fellowships for American students. Each recipient progressed through an on-campus interview and two stages of selection by review panels in the U.S. and in the host countries.
The newest cohort breaks Carthage’s previous record of five Fulbrighters in a single year. The College has had 20 Fulbright fellows since 2015.
“It is wonderful to see so many Carthage alumni serving around the world as Fulbrighters. They are really making a difference in the lives of their students and members of their host communities overseas,” said Dan Choffnes, Carthage’s director of student fellowships. “The six Carthaginians offered placements this year are adaptable, bright, and culturally sensitive teachers and scholars. They exemplify a spirit of international engagement that is so highly valued on our campus and in the Fulbright Program.”
Earlier this year, Carthage extended its streak to three straight years on the exclusive list of top Fulbright-producing institutions in the United States. It was the only school in Wisconsin to make the 2017-18 list, which is published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Meet our six new Fulbrighters, who will represent the College in Asia, Europe, and South America:
Peter Sproule, Germany
A native of Houghton, Michigan, Mr. Sproule majored in German and studio art with a minor in art history. While studying in Munich during his junior year, he became acquainted with the work of 20th century Bavarian fashion illustrator Hans Fischach, an encounter that led to deeper engagement with the field of art history at Munich’s Von Parish Costume Library, and later in internships at the Karin Wimmer contemporary art gallery and the Kunsthalle Munich art and cultural museum.
Now working as the cultural programs coordinator at Goethe-Institut Washington, he plans to return to Germany under the Fulbright grant to continue work at the costume library. He will produce a monograph examining the life and contributions of Fischach, with the ultimate goal of publishing the work and curating an exhibit in the Munich Stadtmuseum.
“With my research,” Mr. Sproule wrote, “I can bolster the rapidly disappearing knowledge of local illustration history in Munich’s art and fashion communities and make this information available to the public.” After completing his fellowship, Mr. Sproule hopes to pursue graduate studies to prepare himself for a curatorial career in modern and contemporary painting and illustration.
Amerin Idell, Germany
Having attended a German immersion school while growing up in Milwaukee and studied in Munich during her junior year, Ms. Idell is prepared to spend another year in a German host community. She is especially interested in the social aspects of cultural intersections, having undertaken academic research on Afro-German identity with the support of a German government grant, and written a senior thesis on the subject.
After graduating, Ms. Idell taught English in China and now works as an associate at Mueller Communications while contributing PR skills as a volunteer for Courage MKE, a nonprofit organization supporting LGBTQ+ youths.
“I am inspired to pursue the Germany ETA program,” Ms. Idell wrote in her application essay, “so that I can provide my students there with a glimpse into U.S. culture through the eyes of a minority woman, as they develop their own Zweisprachigkeit, a term I now realize includes not just an ability to speak two languages, but also the kinds of enhanced cultural competency that will allow us all to understand each other and the world around us more fully.”
TJ Gaertig, Germany
TJ’s educational history reveals a lifetime passion for language learning. Graduating in May with a major in Chinese and minors in German and Asian Studies, the native of Frankfort Square, Illinois, says he looks forward to honing his teaching skills and learning about his new host community.
“As an English teaching assistant, I will encourage students to use language creatively, and I will learn and refine my own teaching practices with the help of fellow teachers and students,” he wrote in his application essay.
In fall 2017, while studying in Guilin, China, TJ taught elementary-level English classes on the weekends. He also has hands-on experience in elementary and middle school classrooms in Germany, elsewhere in China, and Japan.
After Fulbright, TJ hopes to continue teaching English as a second language. As a part of this goal, he plans to apply to the Peace Corps.
Skye Rutherford, Malaysia
An English major from Janesville, Wisconsin, Skye has served as a tutor in the English Department and writing fellow in the Brainard Writing Center, and now plans to take her language teaching skills across the Pacific.
With a curricular concentration in creative writing and minors in both theatre and music, she hopes to use writing, music, and poetry to help students connect their own lives and culture to the English language.
Beyond the classroom walls, Skye expects to immerse herself in a Malaysian host community and become involved in local choirs or theater groups. After Fulbright, Skye intends to earn a master’s degree in screenwriting, with the ultimate goal of becoming a screenwriter or playwright.
“Teaching English in Malaysia will undoubtedly be a rewarding experience,” Skye wrote in her application essay. “Malaysia will challenge what I take for granted, but I am ready to move forward in my career by embracing a new cultural perspective.”
Samantha Johnson, Bulgaria
Samantha, an environmental science and Spanish major from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, studied abroad for the past year in Ecuador. She spent countless hours teaching English in a remote village in the Andes, learning the local Kichwa language to better communicate with her students and their family members.
She has a passion for learning language and experiencing new cultures and plans to do both while exploring the environment of her rural placement site.
“Living in Bulgaria will open my eyes to a whole new way of life, quite different to anywhere I have lived before,” she wrote in her application essay. “Through classroom time, existing organizations, and my own, I hope to share my knowledge about the U.S. while learning all I can about Bulgaria through the everyday relationships I will make.”
With a background in environmental education, she looks forward to contributing to local projects according to the needs of her host community. Samantha hopes to devote her early 20s to international service, after which she plans to attend graduate school in an environmental field.
Zoe Rodriguez, Colombia
Inspired by her first Spanish teacher, who was from Colombia, Zoe has long been fascinated by the culture of that country. Now she’ll experience it firsthand.
An elementary education major and Spanish minor, the Kenosha native hopes to connect to her students by linking the English language to their interests. As a tutor of Spanish and education at Carthage, she plans bring the teaching strategies she has learned to Colombian classrooms.
In addition to being an accomplished athlete, Zoe is also a vocal musician and guitarist, a skillset she will bring with her to her placement location abroad.
“I hope to embed myself into the music community and find opportunities to collaborate with local musicians, church choirs, and others who make music,” she wrote in her application essay. “These collaborations will help me form strong connections and become a genuine part of the community, rather than a visitor.”
After returning to the United States, Zoe intends to pursue a graduate certificate in either English language learning or bilingual education, with the ultimate goal to teach in a bilingual setting.
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In addition to these six Fulbright awardees, two students were named alternates: DaQuawn Bruce ’18 and Herbert Triplett ’17. Congratulations to all!
Juniors, seniors, and alumni of all majors are eligible for Fulbright fellowships. Anyone interested in applying should contact Professor Dan Choffnes, Carthage’s Fulbright Program advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.