Introduced to Byzantine and Islamic art and architecture during a high school history class, Kristen Anderson ’16 was instantly captivated. After graduating from Wheaton, she’ll have the chance to explore these cultures firsthand when she heads to Turkey on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
“As long as I can remember, I’ve had an interest in living in a country that is more outside of the typical Western culture that I’m accustomed to,” said Anderson, who hails from St. Paul, Minn. “I’ve always been interested in living abroad, and as I intend to pursue a career in teaching English abroad after I graduate, a Fulbright seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.”
A double major in English and secondary education, she began planning to apply for a Fulbright during her first year at Wheaton, consulting with her academic advisor, Professor of English Beverly Lyon Clark, about how best to set herself up for success. Before going abroad the spring of her junior year, she met with Alex Trayford, associate dean of the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services, to discuss the Fulbright process.
“I worked closely with Dean Trayford this past fall to prepare my application, and his advice was particularly integral while I was composing my application essays,” Anderson said.
She spent a semester abroad in Rome, Italy through the program IES Abroad, focusing on language and a study of art history—an experience she says is “indescribable.”
“The most tangible piece of my semester abroad was the opportunity to intern at an Italian high school as an English language teaching assistant,” she said. “This internship provided me with a unique understanding of language education and prepared me with the tools I needed to pursue a career in language education straight out of college.”
Anderson was interested in a career in education before coming to Wheaton, but it wasn’t until she enrolled in Italian courses here that she discovered her love for learning and teaching languages. She also has worked as an English tutor since her sophomore year, helping both domestic and international students develop their writing skills.
“Language is the cornerstone of everything that we do, and learning new languages opens doors between cultures and exposes young people to new ideas. Language education, then, is in itself a cultural exchange, where both the teacher and the students benefit from the experience,” she said.
Anderson plans to pursue a career in teaching English as a foreign language after graduation, and she believes the Fulbright experience will help her on that path.
“Not only will I be able to immerse myself in an entirely different culture, but I will be able to gain concrete classroom experience teaching English to non-native speakers and have the opportunity to begin to learn the Turkish language myself,” she said. “This opportunity gives me a crucial post-graduate experience and will allow me to pursue a career in teaching English abroad with a strong educational and professional background.”
Anderson is a recipient of the Charles A. Dana Scholarship and the Rosemary Pye ’68 Wheaton Fund Scholarship.
Spring 2016 award winners
• Javon Mullings ‘16, Watson Fellowship
• Becca Rosenzweig ’19, Projects for Peace Grant