Seven representatives from Kalamazoo College, including six from the class of 2021, receive top honors from the federal government, which will provide them with international learning opportunities during the next academic year.
The Fulbright US Student Program provides scholarships for senior graduates, graduate students, young professionals, and artists to teach English, conduct research, or study abroad for an academic year.
In some cases, the program schedule remains on hold due to persistent issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. However, Fulbright scholarship recipients are selected based on their academic or professional achievement, as well as their demonstrated leadership potential in their field, making this recognition an honor. Here are this year’s K-connected recipients.
Helene Pelak ’21
Only one person is chosen each year to receive a Fulbright Western Sydney University Award in the fields of arts, environment and public health. Helen Pelak is thrilled to be this person as it will help her prepare for a Masters in Public Health and develop a deeper understanding of global health systems.
Pelak obtained a double major in Biology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, a minor in Psychology and studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary as part of the College’s program in Cognitive Sciences during his years. at K.
During her study abroad experience, Pelak developed an infected blister after taking a ropes course and had to be treated in a hospital, where she was fascinated by the Hungarian healthcare system.
Global health systems prompted Pelak to seek opportunities to return abroad. While writing her Principal Integrated Project (SIP) on Cesarean Rates in the United States through a feminist and intersectional lens, Pelak discovered the research of Professor Hannah Dahlen, an academic midwife in Western Sydney.
“As part of the application process, Professor Dahlen wrote a letter of invitation to research for me,” Pelak said. “I expect to gain a holistic perspective on health care and health systems. I also expect to become a more independent and balanced person, able to incorporate the lessons and experiences of the Australian healthcare system and lifestyle into my future work as an obstetrician-gynecologist in the United States.
Katherine Miller-Purrenhage ’21
Katherine Miller-Purrenhage, a double major in music and German with a minor in philosophy at K, will serve as an English teaching assistant in Germany at ETA Hoffmann-Gymnasium Bamberg and Gymnasium Höchstadt ad Aisch, then that she divides her time between the cities of Bamberg and Höchstadt.
Miller-Purrenhage has participated in ensembles such as the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, Academy Street Winds, and College Singers. She was also a member of the Delta Phi Alpha National German Honor Society and served the German department as a teaching assistant during her time at K. Off campus, she volunteered with El Concilio, an organization at nonprofit that defends the Latinx community in a greater Kalamazoo.
Her study abroad experiences in Erlangen, Germany sparked her interest in the Fulbright program while she was doing an internship at a German college where she helped teach German as a second language classes and English.
“I loved teaching and learning about educational spaces that should be uplifting, and what I could do as an educator to make them that way so that every student felt included and celebrated,” Miller-Purrenhage said. “I expect this experience to be very different from my studies abroad, as I will be able to focus more on bonding with my community. This will benefit me as I learn to grow and participate better in cultural exchanges while immersing myself in the German language.
Sophia goebel ’21
Sophia Goebel, major in Critical Ethnic Studies at K, will be an English teaching assistant at the University of Malaga in Spain. There, she will continue to develop the teaching skills she acquired while studying abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, where she developed and facilitated an expressive arts workshop to explore the subject of communal territories with students. from San Martín Huamelulpan, an indigenous community.
“I loved being able to connect with the participants in Oaxaca and learn alongside them,” Goebel said. “I spent time attending their English classes and it was so fun to think about my language from a learner’s point of view and think about how best to teach them pronunciation or vocabulary. In turn, they helped me teach me Spanish. It inspired me to try and spend more time in an intercultural and interlingual learning space through Fulbright, and I also wanted to spend more time exploring the role of the teacher.
“I hope to form many new relationships and find out how to build a life without the crutch of my school community,” she added. “I’m excited to learn more about who I am outside of being a student. My goal is to continue to learn pedagogy, something that we have explored a lot at the writing center, and to develop myself as a teacher, facilitator and mentor. I’m also really trying to improve my Spanish. I am very happy to learn more about the history and culture of Spain, especially after learning a little more about the politics of the country last year in a course at K. I hope to develop a more insight compassionate about American culture and identifying the elements that are meaningful and important to me, something that I think will be somewhat of a challenge. “
Molly Roberts ’21
Molly Roberts, a double major in French and Psychology at K, had the misfortune of missing two opportunities to study abroad. First, she was the only candidate interested in a short-lived spring experience in Strasbourg, France, in her sophomore year, forcing the trip to be canceled. Then, COVID-19 spread across the world during his junior year.
“I always wanted to be immersed in the French language and culture,” said Roberts. “Plus, graduate school has been something I’ve been interested in for quite some time. When I found a masters program with an advisor, Dr Fabien D’Hondt, who shared the same passions as me and had a research project in the field of neuroscience focused on PTSD, a Fulbright scholarship seemed to me. to be the next logical step in my career. path.”
Roberts expects her studies to benefit from her research opportunities, but she will also work for the National Center for Resources and Resilience (CN2R), an organization that takes current research focused on PTSD and puts it into practice for assist trauma survivors.
“This revolutionary and accessible approach from research to practice is what I expect to bring back with me to the United States,” she said.
Margaret Totten ’21
As the Fulbright Laureate, Margaret Totten will serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Thailand, a place she has known well from her studies abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
“I had hoped to come back to continue learning the Thai language, culture and natural environment,” said Totten, who had a major in computer science, a minor in mathematics and a concentration in environmental studies at K. “The one of my main goals is to improve my Thai skills and build meaningful relationships with people in my host community.
Nina Szalkiewicz ’21
Nina Szalkiewicz, a major in commerce and minor in German at K, will follow in the footsteps of Georgie Andrews ’20, who served this academic year as an English teaching assistant in Austria through Fulbright.
Szalkiewicz first traveled abroad thanks to K when she spent six months in Bonn, Germany, which led to what she called her wonderful and surprising experiences while studying German, thus creating his interest in Fulbright.
“By pushing my limits and opening up to new cultures and customs, I have grown tremendously as an individual, which has changed my outlook on my life,” Szalkiewicz said. “I started to consider Fulbright more carefully after reflecting on my Intercultural Research Project (ICRP) at the Friedrich-Ebert-Gymnasium. To my surprise, teaching and mentoring at this German college has been one of my most enjoyable endeavors and something I have benefited from the most.
Evelyn Rosero ’13
Evelyn Rosero was a major in human development and social relations at K, leading to two years of volunteer work in Detroit with Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that finds teachers for low-income schools. Today, she teaches in East Los Angeles, California, and wants to gain a global perspective on education while serving Fulbright as an English teaching assistant in South Korea.
On a personal note, she is happy that South Korea is her assigned destination as she is a huge fan of the South Korean boy band BTS and is hoping to see one of their concerts. However, its main goals are professional and developed with a philanthropic heart. She wants to find connections between Korean student identities and English content; share his American identity to dialogue; continue to learn Korean to better understand their students; and grow beyond their personal comfort zones.
“I am really delighted to be part of this experience, especially as an educator,” said Rosero. “Even though I’ve been teaching for eight years, there is still so much to learn. As a foreigner, I will learn about the Korean origin of my students and the community in which they reside.
About the U.S. Fulbright Student Program
Since 1946, the Fulbright program has offered more than 380,000 participants, chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, opportunities to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions to common international problems. More than 1,900 American students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 fields of study are offered Fulbright program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research in more than 140 countries around the world each year. In addition, approximately 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States each year to study, lecture, conduct research, and teach foreign languages.
For more information on the Fulbright US Student Program, visit their website.