Six CSB and SJU students receive Fulbright awards to teach English in schools overseas

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May 7, 2018

By Mike Killeen

2018 Fulbright winners

Front row (left to right): Daniel Yang, Olayemi Fadahunsi, Allison Cwikla. 

Second row (left to right): Morgan Durbin, Maya Hermerding, Kelsey Tatarek.

Photo by Tommy O'Laughlin '13

Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Colombia, Spain and Thailand might be a traveler’s dream – or a travel agent’s worst logistical nightmare.

But for six students from the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University, those countries will be their homes for 2018-19.

The six — CSB’s Allison Cwikla, Morgan Durbin, Olayemi Fadahunsi, Maya Hermerding and Kelsey Tatarek, and SJU’s Daniel Yang — have received awards from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, sponsored by the Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

All six received Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) awards.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program places recent college graduates as English Teaching Assistants in schools and universities overseas. The ETAs improve international students' English abilities and knowledge of the U.S., while enhancing their own language skills and knowledge of the host country. ETAs may also pursue individual study/research plans in addition to their teaching responsibilities.

Since 2013, 29 students or graduates from CSB and SJU have earned Fulbright ETA awards.

Cwikla, from Fargo, North Dakota, is headed to Indonesia. “Receiving an education from Saint Ben’s has strengthened my ability to think critically and creatively, as well as developed a belief that I can – and I must – make a positive impact in the world,” she said. She graduates May 12 with a degree in psychology and in the pre-professional program for medicine.

Durbin, from St. Cloud, Minnesota, will teach in Sri Lanka, an island country south of India. “I studied abroad in India, so I felt a personal connection and pure fascination with South Asia, but I wanted to integrate myself into a culture that I hadn’t yet experienced,” said Durbin, who graduates May 12 with a degree in environmental studies.

Fadahunsi, from Maplewood, Minnesota, will teach in Taiwan. The political science major, who will graduate May 12, said the award is important to her “because it is giving me a very unique opportunity to work and live in another country as well as being a representative of the United States, which is an honor.” Fadahunsi also hopes to learn from her students.

Hermerding will teach at the Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia in Villaviciencio, Colombia. She studied abroad in nearby Chile during her junior year at CSB, and traveled to Argentina and Peru while in Chile. Hermerding is a political science and Hispanic studies double-major from Brainerd, Minnesota, who “is excited to explore the commonalities” between her home area and Colombia.

Tatarek will teach in Spain, a country she is familiar with. She studied aboard during spring semester 2016 in Spain and “loved her experiences there. I have wanted to go back to Spain since studying abroad and thought that the Fulbright program in Spain would be an amazing opportunity to do so.” Tatarek is a double-major in Hispanic studies and natural science from St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Yang is a communication major from St. Paul, Minnesota, who will teach in Thailand.  “The Fulbright program is important to me because it will supply me with the skills and connections that will make me a competitive applicant when it comes to graduate school and the workforce.” He wants to pursue a master’s degree in education policy following his Fulbright commitment.

The six students are part of over 1,900 U.S. citizens who will conduct research, teach English and provide expertise abroad for the 2018-19 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright program has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, professionals and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

CSB and SJU students interested in applying for a Fulbright Award for the 2019-20 academic year should contact Phil Kronebusch, professor of political science and coordinator of competitive fellowships at CSB and SJU, or Lindsey Gutsch, program assistant for undergraduate research and competitive scholarships at CSB and SJU.