VANESSA STAUBLIN | Staff Reporter
Senior Emily Seibert will be closing a chapter in her life next month at Butler University’s commencement. But as her time at Butler comes to an end, another adventure begins.
Seibert is a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. For the second time in her life, Seibert will be packing up her bags and living in Europe. But instead of studying abroad for four months in Amsterdam as she did her junior year, she will be teaching English for 10 months in Athens.
“I’m definitely shocked but honored that I have this opportunity,” Seibert said. “It hasn’t hit me yet that it’s actually real. I have mixed emotions, but I’m mostly just happy and humbled.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide, according to Fulbright’s website.
One other senior, Alex Still, will join Seibert in receiving the Fulbright. Still will spend her time in the Northern France this year.
Still could not be reached for comment.
Around 1,600 Fulbright program grants are awarded to U.S. students each year.
Rusty Jones, interim associate director of the Center for High Achievement and Scholarly Engagement, posted an announcement through the Butler Connection early last fall semester. Seibert saw this opportunity and contacted Jones.
“For some reason, it caught my eye,” Seibert said. “It connected teaching and serving and living abroad all in one. (Jones) said I’d be a great candidate. I started the application process in September and sent it in in October.”
The application process included two one-page essays, three letters of recommendation and other personal information.
Jones helped her throughout the process.
“Successful applications have been given a lot of thought and effort,” he said. “Students work with me to craft their applications. I then form Fulbright campus committees that provide further feedback for each candidate.”
He then writes a university endorsement letter recommending the student based on the ideas of the committee, which is included in the application.
Of all of the places she could have chosen, Seibert said she had motives for choosing Athens.
“I chose to send my application to Greece because there was no language requirement, which was definitely good,” Seibert said. “I also get to work collaboratively with 11 other students going abroad in the program. I didn’t want to be completely alone. I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Jones said he believes the Fulbright program is a life-changing experience.
“You live abroad for a year, work closely within a foreign community, and it is all fully paid by Fulbright,” Jones said. “It has great professional benefits on the line as well. Employers and graduate schools are going to be excited to have a Fulbright winner on board with them.”
Returning in July 2015, Seibert said she plans on looking for a post-program U.S. job during her stay in Greece.
“It’s nice because I don’t have to do that now,” she said. “But it’ll be harder looking for teaching opportunities while I’m across the ocean. I’ll have to start working right when I get back home in July.”
Seibert said she looks forward to learning new teaching strategies while abroad.
“I can’t wait to immerse myself in a different culture again and see how the education system works in a different country,” Seibert said. “I’ll get to have an in-depth look and see what works for them. I’m excited to bring different things I learn there into my own classroom back in the states.”
Jones encourages current students who will be graduating in spring 2015 to contact him and consider applying soon.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity. I wish more students knew about it,” Jones said. “I am already looking to recruit applicants for next year.”
With graduation next month, Seibert reflected on her time at Butler and her future in Greece.
“I still can’t believe I’m doing this and that this opportunity has happened in my life,” Seibert said. “I’ve had an amazing four years here at Butler, and I couldn’t be luckier to have this chance to further my education after graduation.”
Seibert and Still are the sixth and seventh Fulbright recipients from Butler in the last four years.