Five Austin College graduating seniors and a 2009 graduate were awarded Fulbright grants this spring and will spend the next academic year teaching English internationally. The students are among 1,500 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2011-2012 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
Selection for the program emphasizes leadership potential, academic, and professional excellence, and commitment to mutual understanding.
The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program, a component of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, places U.S. students, primarily new college graduates, as English teaching assistants in schools or universities overseas, where they increase foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States. They are integrated into the host community, which improves their own foreign language skills and knowledge of the host country.
Christiana Bay, an English and psychology major completing Honors in English, will spend the year in South Korea. The Phi Beta Kappa magna cum laude graduate is the daughter of Kathleen and Austin Bay, Austin, Texas.
Cameron Behal, an international relations and Spanish major, also will spend the year in South Korea. Cameron, a cum laude graduate, is the son of Mark and Erica Coppic of Austin, Texas, and Harry Behal and Eshar Geerlitz of Galveston, Texas.
Erin Sweeney, a political science major, received one of only two awards for English teaching in Croatia. She is the daughter of Shane Sweeney of Ada, Oklahoma, and Nancy Sweeney of Rowlett, Texas. Erin, a summa cum laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate, also was selected as Outstanding Senior Woman.
Matthew Varvir, who completed majors in communication studies and physics, will teach English in South Korea. He is the son of Mark and Lee Ann Varvir of Carrollton, Texas. The summa cum laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate received the Kidd Scholarship Medal as one of the two top seniors in the Class of 2011.
Miles Vaughn, a 2009 graduate who completed majors in economics and Spanish, will teach English in Colombia. Since graduation, he has worked with Teach For America, teaching at Capitol High Academy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Katherine Wilshusen, a political science and German major completing Honors in German, will be assigned to Germany. She is the daughter of Fred Wilshusen and Leslie McFarlane of Dallas, Texas. The summa cum laude Phi Beta Kappa graduate received the Robinson Scholarship Medal as one of the two top seniors in the Class of 2011.
Frank McStay II, an international relations major and magna cum laude 2011 graduate, was selected as an alternate in the Germany program. He is the son of Frank and Mitzi McStay of Frisco, Texas.
“Austin College is one of the top three Fulbright-producing institutions per capita in Texas,” said Patrick Duffey, Austin College Fulbright program advisor. “The fact that we have five students who have been awarded English teaching assistantships is a reflection of our strength in international education and foreign language education. For many years, our students have studied abroad and have studied many foreign languages on campus. The range of destinations of these students reflects the real diversity in the interests of our students.”
Six Fulbright awards is the most awarded to Austin College students in one year. “This record number of awards here this year also indicates how we at Austin College help our students to succeed at the national and international level and to develop the critical thinking and writing skills that help them to win prestigious awards,” Duffey, dean of Humanities and professor of Spanish, explained.
The Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in over 155 countries worldwide.
Austin College is a leading national independent liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas. Founded in 1849, making it the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original charter and name, the college is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA). Recognized nationally for academic excellence in the areas of international education, pre-professional training, and leadership studies, Austin College is one of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives.