From student to teacher
Matt Sexton ’14 wins Fulbright to teach English in Poland
When he graduates from Wheaton College this spring, Matt Sexton ’14 won’t be done with school. The chemistry major from Merrimack, N.H., hopes to become a doctor in pediatric medicine, and that means a few more years in the classroom.
But first he wants to teach.
Sexton recently won a Fulbright grant for a nine-month English teaching assistantship (ETA) in Poland, which will begin in October. While tutoring in Wheaton’s chemistry department, he discovered he enjoyed working with students.
“I wanted to explore this interest, and the Fulbright will allow me to develop my abilities as a teacher while having the opportunity to explore Poland,” he said.
A self-described “homebody,” Sexton first ventured outside the United States last summer, when he spent eight weeks job-shadowing doctors and learning about health care in India. He is now eager to check out Europe.
Sexton is also hoping to bring his passion for swimming to Poland. He has been a member of the Wheaton Lyons men’s swimming team since he was a freshman.
“My college experience would not have been complete without being a part of the swim team, and while in Poland I hope to continue my involvement with swimming in some way. That might mean helping out with a university swim team or teaching a six-year old how to float on his or her back, but either way it will be fun and it will help me connect with people outside of the classroom,” Sexton said.
While speaking Polish is not a requirement for English teaching assistants, Sexton said he does plan to study the language this summer to develop some conversational skills. He chose the Poland program because its profile specifically named science majors as candidates of interest.
“The biggest challenge of working as a teacher in Poland will be finding the right explanation for each student,” he said. “Everyone learns differently, and being able to figure out how to best explain something to a student can be surprisingly hard, especially when the student learns differently than I do. I think this challenge will be harder in Poland because I do not have the cultural understanding to make strong connections with the students initially.”
Sexton said he is grateful for the help he received preparing his Fulbright application from Wheaton faculty and staff in the chemistry department and Filene Center, and from men’s swimming coach Barrett Roberts '07.
“I really appreciate that Wheaton is a school where I can seek out help from anyone, and people are so willing to provide it,” he said.
Sexton is a Balfour Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa member. In addition to swimming all four years for the Lyons, he is active with BACCHUS, a student group focused on alcohol-free programming, and the Pre-Health Society.