by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Dickinson has earned a reputation as a top-producing Fulbright school in recent years, with a high percentage of graduating seniors being awarded prestigious Fulbright fellowships to teach and/or study abroad. That trend continues in 2017, as two students prepare to work, learn and live in the Middle East and Europe as Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETAs), and one administrator readies for an exceptional professional opportunity.
The flagship international-exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by providing opportunities for Americans to study and research, teach, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to international concerns. Applicants must submit their proposals in autumn, and they receive word of their acceptance to the program in the spring.
Class of 2017 members Matthew Ferry and Maureen Marsh will travel to the Middle East and Eastern Europe, respectively, where they’ll act as cultural ambassadors as they gain and promote an understanding of global cultures that’s informed by direct experience and meaningful interaction. Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing & Communications Stefanie Niles will attend an intensive international seminar designed to position her to help broaden and deepen Dickinson’s global-education programming.
A history major with minors in Arabic and educational studies, Ferry will teach in Jordan. He also plans to study Jordanian Arabic and spend his down time interning or volunteering for an organization that supports refugee needs.
“Jordan occupies a unique position in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis,” he says, noting that the country is struggling to support some 600,000 refugees, “and for refugee children, access to education has been stifled due to physical factors, bureaucracy and simply lack of opportunity. I hope to pursue a career in international education development, and living and teaching in Jordan next year will give me invaluable experiences and perspectives to take on such work.”
For Marsh, a Russian major who minors in educational studies, the award presents an opportunity to fulfill a long-held dream to inspire students as she has been inspired.
She will teach English in Bulgaria, a country she first became interested in while studying applied linguistics of Slavic languages. On learning that the Cyrillic alphabet was first developed in Bulgaria, she researched the country’s rich history and culture and knew she wanted to learn more. She’ll tap both her passion for language and teaching as a high school language instructor at Aleko Konstantinov Foreign Language School in Pravets, about 40 miles from Bulgaria’s capitol.
“The ETA in Bulgaria is my opportunity to not only teach English, but to create a comfortable space to exchange cultural experiences,” says Marsh, a member of Delta Nu, Relay for Life, Kappa Delta Pi, Dobro Slovo and Dickinson’s volleyball team, who plans to create a volleyball program for her Bulgarian students. “I am deeply honored to be part of this extraordinary program.”
Ferry agrees. “Fulbright has been a dream of mine since my sophomore year,” he says. “I can’t think of a more fulfilling way for me to begin my post-grad life.”
Through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar program, Niles will attend an intensive two-week seminar on France’s higher-education system, designed to help higher education leaders explore new strategies to engage and serve international students and prospective study abroad students.
A member of the president’s leadership team since 2015, Niles heads Dickinson’s admissions, financial aid, marketing & communications, institutional research and athletics departments. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, a master's from Indiana University-Bloomington and a doctorate in higher-education management from the University of Pennsylvania and arrived at Dickinson after serving as chief enrollment officer for Hollins University, Bryn Athyn College and DePauw University.
Niles will travel to France in October to participate in the Fulbright seminar, which includes campus visits and briefings with faculty, administrators, government officials and leading experts; meetings with fellow American administrators participating in a similar program in Germany; and opportunities to network with U.S. and international colleagues. She is one of only 12 higher education leaders to be awarded a Fulbright to participate in this seminar.
“In the 20 years I have worked in enrollment, I have seen U.S. students enriched by their academic and social interactions with international students and international students who have developed confidence, purpose and leadership skills through their immersion in U.S. educational and cultural experiences," Niles says. "I’m eager to learn from other colleagues how their systems and strategies might help us augment Dickinson’s own methods of recruitment, support and programming for international students, and I’m honored to have been selected to participate in the Fulbright seminar this fall.”
Published May 9, 2017