Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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Teaching and learning

Fulbright Scholar sees teaching as an opportunity to learn

By helping others to learn, Katrina Hegeman gains new insights herself.

She stands to learn a great deal next year when she travels to the Slovak Republic as a Fulbright Scholar, teaching English to high school students.

"I'm looking forward to learning firsthand about another country's education system," says Hegeman. "I feel so grateful for the opportunity to do what I love and at the same time help other people to learn English. I can't wait to meet my students!"

The senior from Dighton, Mass., will be teaching in Liptovský Mikuláš, a small city of about 32,000 people north of the nation's capital, Bratislava. The country emerged from communist rule in 1989 as part of Czechoslovakia and it became an independent nation in 1993.

"I was attracted to the Slovak Republic because of its interesting history and its central location in Europe," she says. "All of my friends who have visited the Slovak Republic have enjoyed the culture."

Hegeman discovered an interest in teaching while taking education courses at Wheaton. "The fieldwork I did for those courses--which included tutoring a second-grader in language arts and observing high school English classes--made me want to pursue teaching as a career."

A major in English with a concentration in dramatic literature and creative writing and a minor in secondary education, Hegeman has excelled in her studies at Wheaton. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, a Presidential Scholar (maintaining a grade point average of 3.8 or greater) and a member of the Dean's List Top Ten students for her entire college career. She was admitted to Wheaton as a Balfour Scholar, and she holds Wheaton's Charles A. Dana and Clemence Family scholarships.

Her extra-curricular activities mirror her academic interests. She mentors Brockton High School students through the college's H.E.R.O. (Higher Education Readiness Opportunities) program and volunteers with the Whe/Arc Friendship Club, providing social opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She also has authored scripts for, as well as acted and directed in, the college's Ten Minute Plays Festival since her first year at the college.

Hegeman has served as a peer tutor at Wheaton, and she has observed classes in the Dighton-Rehoboth and Norton high schools. This semester, she is leading two classes at nearby Norton High School, a freshman composition class and an elective course on dramatic literature and the theatre.

"Teaching is always slightly unpredictable and I like having to think on my feet," Hegeman says. "It's been a great experience getting to know my students and learning along with them. They bring fresh perspectives to whatever we're studying, and they teach me new things all the time."