Seniors receive Fulbright grants, English teaching jobs

Kaelia Neal, Staff Writer

After graduating from college some students attend graduate school, start working at their new job or go back home to figure out what step to take next in life.

Some students decide to leave the country.

Many students from Linfield receive scholarships and honors including Fulbright grants and acceptance into the Japanese Exchange Program (JET).

Erin Carson, a graduating senior at Linfield, has been offered a Fulbright grant to serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan.

Carson, who is also a member of the Linfield softball team, was at the NWC Tournament in Spokane, Washington, when she received the email that she had been accepted.

“We had just won our first game when I received the email,” Carson said. “It was really great.”

Carson is interested in Chinese culture, but since China does not offer English teaching Fulbright positions, she decided on Taiwan.

Joel Trousdale, another graduating senior at Linfield, has been accepted into the JET program and is leaving the country for a year to teach in Japan.

Trousdale knew he wanted to take a break before going to graduate school, but he still wanted to continue his education. “The JET program seemed like a smart opportunity,” he said.

“I wanted to travel and make money, and the JET program seemed like the perfect combination of travel, experience and prestige,” Trousdale said.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, said Tom Mertes, competitive scholarship adviser at Linfield.

Mertes oversees Linfield students who receive the Fulbright Scholarship.

“A Fulbright provides funding for recipients that covers their cost of living in the host country for the period of the grant including food, shelter and transport,” Mertes said.

Teaching assistants do not need to have teaching experience in a classroom, but “any program where they taught other people skills helps,” Mertes said.

Experience can come from the education department, Upward Bound and summer camps.

Other Fulbright programs involve research in a foreign country instead of teaching.

Qualities that give students a better chance in receiving the scholarship include a clear research project, being able to show skills in that research project’s area and a high grade point average.

Students who have community or civic engagement, leadership skills and have studied abroad may have a higher chance of being selected as well.

“There is no such thing as a perfect candidate,” Mertes said.

In addition to Carson, Breanna Ribeiro, who graduated from Linfield in 2014, has also been offered a Fulbright as an English teaching assistant in Rwanda.

Two other current Linfield students are Fulbright alternates.

Current students selected for the JET program are Nicholas Coney, Sydney Owen and Caitlyn Talbot, in addition to Trousdale and Dawn Wyruchowski.

Gabi Nygaard, a 2013 Linfield alumna, has also been accepted into the JET program. She is currently serving as a Fulbright scholar in South Korea.

Jeremy Odden, a current student at Linfield, is an alternate for the JET program.

The Japanese government is in charge of the JET program. The goal of the program is for native English speakers to serve as assistant language teachers in elementary, middle and high schools.

The program is looking for students who have a four-year college degree and are citizens of an English-speaking country. There is a minimum one-year commitment to the program.

Within the JET Program is the Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) position, which is what the majority of students apply for.

Professor Christopher Keaveney is affiliated with the JET program, which is sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Education.

Not only does he teach Japanese at Linfield, but he also is regularly invited to serve as an interviewer during the application process of the JET program.

Students who have experience living abroad are preferred, especially those who went to Japan, Keaveney said.

“You do not have to know Japanese to apply,” Keaveney said. “You only have to be a native speaker of English who likes to teach kids.”

Students receive “international experience and pretty good money to pay back college loans,” he said.

Attending Linfield is seen as a plus because of the Japanese program, language and culture classes as well as the presence of international students from Japan, Keaveney said.

The program is much better than in past years. Its administrators know how to make the foreign ALT’s feel at home, he said.

“I appreciate the value of this program and I think this is a really good experience,” Keaveney said.