Recent graduates will spend an academic year teaching in classrooms abroad.
This summer, two May graduates and College of Health Sciences students will begin a journey abroad as participants in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Kathryn Higgins, Arts ’18, will head to Colombia and Aidan Flanagan, H Sci ’18, is off to Bulgaria. Both will assist local English teachers and engage in cultural exchange, interacting with and learning from their host communities to better understand and appreciate how others live.
Brett Yardley, a graduate student in philosophy, is an alternate to receive a Fulbright study/research award that could take him to Belgium, if space becomes available.
Kathryn Higgins was home for Good Friday when she found out she’d received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award in Speech and Language Pathology.
“I ran downstairs and screamed to my mom with excitement,” she says. In July, she leaves for Bogotá, Colombia, where she’ll work as an English teaching assistant at Areandina University.
Higgins’s interest in Colombia was kindled by her first Spanish teacher at Marquette, former Adjunct Instructor and Colombian native Consuelo Carrillo. Service work also helped nurture her love of Colombia and Latin American culture. As a volunteer English tutor for adults in Milwaukee, Higgins met and befriended a woman from Manizales, Colombia.
A graduate student who traveled to Mexico as a Fulbright awardee informed Higgins of the program. Since she didn’t study abroad as an undergraduate, she saw this as a perfect opportunity to experience Latin America for herself and give back before grad school.
Higgins will teach 20 hours per week alongside a university professor for the 2018-19 academic year. As part of her curriculum, she plans to incorporate Skype sessions connecting her Colombian students with Marquette students learning Spanish. During her studies at Marquette, she participated in a similar online language exchange, and it helped her language acquisition immensely.
After concluding her Fulbright year, Higgins will return to Marquette to earn her master’s degree in speech pathology. She’s excited for the experience of teaching and interacting with Latin American culture, and grateful to Marquette to preparing her for it. “I owe so much to all the wonderful education, speech pathology and Spanish professors I had here at Marquette over the past four years,” she says.
Aidan Flanagan knew he wanted to be a Fulbright scholar since he was 12 years old. His family introduced him to the program as a child, so when Flanagan found out he had been accepted to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program as an English teaching assistant, the first thing he did was call his parents.
In August, Flanagan’s Fulbright Award will take him to Gabrovo, Bulgaria. He will teach English and American culture at the Aprilov National School in exchange for the opportunity to learn about Bulgaria’s healthcare system. It wasn’t until the late 80s that Bulgaria left the Soviet Union and because of that timing, communist influences remain in many Bulgarian systems, including healthcare. Bulgaria’s unique history and the contrast in healthcare between it and the United States sparked Flanagan’s interest in fellowship study there.
“My goal later in life is to become a physician and Bulgaria, coming from a socialistic background, has drastically different healthcare than the US’s capitalistic system,” Flanagan says. He also looks forward to learning customs from locals and developing friendships with his students. And since his host community is at the foot of the Balkan Mountains, he hopes to climb throughout the year.
Although the thought of navigating a space where English isn’t the primary language hits a few nerves for Flanagan, he embraces that challenge and expects to become fluent in Bulgarian over the next year. “I pursued the Fulbright Scholarship because I want to learn about other cultures, other ways of life, and to challenge myself in unfamiliar situations,” he says.