Matt Beck earns Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholarship to teach in Germany

June 2, 2010

Matt BeckForgive Matt Beck for experiencing a back to the future moment.

The recent graduate of Saint John's University will be returning to Germany with a Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholarship to teach in Nuremberg, the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced recently.

"I'll be teaching in two schools in Nuremberg - a Gymnasium (university-track school) and a Haupschule (practical career-track school). I just found out that Fulbright gave me a special diversity position, so I'll be working in an urban school with a high percentage of immigrants," Beck said.

For Beck, who graduated May 9 with degrees in English and German from SJU, it marks his third trip to Germany. He studied abroad in Ingolstadt during summer 2008 in a service learning, teaching and volunteer program offered by St. Cloud State University in consortium with the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University. Ingolstadt is about 48 miles from Nuremberg. He also visited Germany on a class trip after graduating from Pierz (Minn.) Healy High School.

"During my time in Ingolstadt, I worked in an after-school program for struggling students," said Beck, who is from Buckman, Minn. "This experience introduced me to the German school system and motivated me to research issues in German education.

"This opportunity will give me that chance to test and reexamine some of the ideas that I formulated in my (senior) thesis," Beck added. "My thesis examined pedagogical methods for empowering immigrants to succeed within the German school system, and even though I'll be teaching English courses, I will get the opportunity to work with immigrants."

Beck had a multi-decorated career at SJU. He graduated summa cum laude, and was the student commencement speaker, as selected by the Saint John's senior class. And, there's the Fulbright award - he's one of almost 1,600 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2010-11 academic year through the program.

But he's most proud of completing and defending his senior thesis, and then presenting it in April at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Missoula, Mont.

"It represents the culmination of what I've learned at Saint John's and Saint Ben's, and it propels me forward from these institutions into the world of teaching," Beck said.

He'll be teaching in Germany from Sept. 6 to June 30, 2011. Beck says he hopes to improve his German language skills, meet new people and gain cultural insights into the German educational system.

"As a future teacher, my experience abroad will certainly carry over into my teaching back in the U.S.," Beck said. "I'm planning - at this time - on earning a Ph. D. in education, most likely focusing on critical pedagogy or cultural studies, so working as a teaching assistant abroad will give me the experiences to excel in both of these fields."

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and 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.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.