Following the music
Montana Rogers ’14 wins Fulbright to teach in Bulgaria
A pianist for two semesters in Wheaton’s World Music Ensemble, Montana Rogers ’14 appreciates listening to and learning about musical traditions from other cultures. So when she began looking at places to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, she found herself drawn to Bulgaria.
“I thought it would be interesting to explore a culture that has a unique traditional music practice and history,” said Rogers, a double major in creative writing and music. “Last semester in World Music Ensemble, [Director] Sheila Falls-Keohane assigned us a couple of traditional Bulgarian tunes. They were unlike anything I'd played before, but a lot of fun.”
The Dublin, N.H., native recently learned that she has won a Fulbright to teach in Bulgaria for about 10 months, starting in September.
Rogers knew of Wheaton’s “spectacular record” for winning Fulbrights even before enrolling, and she received guidance from several faculty members, as well as staff in the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services, during the application process.
“I saw it as an opportunity to explore my interest in teaching, while gaining a more global experience and the chance to live in and learn more about another country and culture,” Rogers said.
Originally planning on a career in editing or publishing, Rogers said she has since broadened her goals to include a mix of writing and teaching. She plans to apply to graduate school for creative writing or English after her Fulbright year.
“I've had several experiences working or interning in offices, and while I've learned a lot from them and am extremely grateful for these experiences, at this moment I want to move about the world, to explore and continue to learn,” Rogers said. “My writing and music are very important to me and I've realized in the last year or so that I would never be able to give up these creative aspects of myself and that pursuing either or both of these fields is probably what I will do.”
Rogers studied abroad in Cork, Ireland during the fall semester of her junior year at Wheaton, exploring her interest in music and enjoyment of folklore and learning how to play the Bodhran (an Irish frame drum) and the traditional Irish flute.
“One of the best experiences I had in Ireland was working with students at one of the local schools, helping them with their homework,” she said. “I gained a greater independence and confidence through studying abroad, and I learned that it is important to try new things, to fully immerse yourself in the experience and to explore your surroundings while being flexible with your plans and open-minded.”
In addition to learning Bulgarian and immersing herself in the local culture (she is considering kaval lessons), Rogers plans to offer a free English conversational group for her host community, in which she can share her own culture as well.
Along with membership in the World Music Ensemble at Wheaton, Rogers, a Balfour Scholar, has written and acted in the college’s 10 Minute Play Festival, worked as a preceptor and volunteered for three years with Commencement Reunion.