CSB graduate Huot-Link ’19 gets late Fulbright call

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February 11, 2020

By Mike Killeen

Isabel Huot-Link

Isabel Huot-Link

The old axiom better late than never is true. Just ask Isabel Huot-Link.

The 2019 summa cum laude graduate of the College of Saint Benedict had applied to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to be an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Peru. However, she was selected as an alternate to the program, and it appeared her dream was dashed – at least for this year.

But in October, Huot-Link was notified that she was selected to be an ETA in a new program in Arequipa, Peru. She left for the South American country Feb. 9, with her teaching duties set to begin in March.

It will be a 10-month stay.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program places recent college graduates as ETA’s 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, 36 students or graduates from CSB and SJU have earned Fulbright ETA awards.

“They sent me an email and said, ‘We have a new opening for a teaching assistantship. Do you want it? You have two days to respond.’ And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, yes,’ ‘’ Huot-Link said.

“This was just a week or two after I had submitted my application for next year’s Fulbright,” she said. “I decided to re-apply because I knew it was still something I really wanted to do. Just as I submitted my application, my alternate status from the past year was upgraded.

“It has been several months of organizing things and figuring out this new program,” Huot-Link said.

It has been the continuation of a whirlwind period for Huot-Link.

After consulting with Phil Kronebusch, professor of political science and coordinator of competitive fellowships at CSB and Saint John’s University, on how to boost her new application, she started a number of teaching opportunities in the Twin Cities during the summer and fall. Huot-Link taught English to adult learners, Spanish to elementary students, art classes for middle school students and served as a Spanish interpreter.

“I still don’t know what age group I’m going to be teaching. I know it will be somewhere between middle school and high school,” Huot-Link said. “It’s kind of nice that I now have experience with every possible age group, so anything they throw at me will be pretty manageable, I hope.”

She is returning to a country where she completed an external study abroad trip during spring semester 2018.

“Living in a different country and living in one place for an extended period of time was a really incredible experience,” she said. “Being in Peru, especially, was really interesting because of the interesting mix of cultures in that country and the extremely diverse geography and architectural history.

“I thought the country was really great,” Huot-Link said.

Besides sharing her culture with the Peruvians, the theater major also hopes to find direction when it comes to her future plans. She also plans to direct a play for her students at Innova, the school she will work at in Arequipa, Peru, and will share play back in the U.S. in order to fulfill the Fulbright goal of intercultural exchange both during and after the program.

“I’m interested in teaching and going to graduate school, but I don’t have all the specifics worked out. I’m really hoping that this opens my eyes with what I can do afterwards, what I can bring back to the U.S. and how I can continue to move forward with new adventures,” she said.

CSB and SJU students interested in applying for a 2021-22 Fulbright Award should contact Phil Kronebusch, professor of political science and coordinator of competitive fellowships at CSB and SJU, or Lindsey Gutsch, Program Coordinator for Undergraduate Research, Competitive Fellowships and First-Year Experience.