Wednesday April 26, 2017

Core Students Win Fulbright Honors

Three University of Dayton seniors from the Core program won scholarships as part of Fulbright programs and are headed abroad as English teaching assistants.

Kira Ogburn, a senior English major from West Palm Beach, Florida, with minors in German and communications, and Elizabeth Pedrotti, a senior English major and Italian minor from New Lebanon, Ohio, received Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) scholarships.

Ogburn will travel to Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany, to teach in an English classroom and serve as a cultural ambassador in the community. She is also TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certified and is eager to use her skills in a foreign language environment.

“One of the biggest reasons I wanted to apply for the Fulbright in Germany was to further connect with my cultural heritage,” Ogburn said. “I have been working toward fluency in German throughout my college career and this 10-month immersion will greatly benefit me. I am interested in exploring the differences between the German and American school systems as part of my exchange.”

Pedrotti will venture to Malaysia to teach in a middle school classroom and serve as a conversation partner and liaison between American and Malaysian culture.

“The Fulbright experience will force me to become a better decision maker, a stronger leader and a more empathetic and adaptable person,” Pedrotti said. “I want to spend an extended period of time abroad after graduating, and teaching English as a second language through the Fulbright program seemed like

an ideal opportunity. I hope to gain a better understanding of Malaysian culture, and the personal growth and independence that comes with living in a new and challenging environment.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is sponsored by the United States government and provides intercultural education exchange opportunities like teaching English abroad or conducting research or attending graduate school abroad.

The University now has produced 25 Fulbright scholars.

“Fulbright allows students to see the world and use their skills in an international context,” said Laura Cotten, University honors program associate director, who advises students on fellowship applications. “It’s amazing how much students grow from their Fulbright year. Our UD students are great applicants; our students get the Fulbright mission and vision.”

The Fulbright application process is rigorous and highly selective. This year, the University had six semi-finalists from a pool of 17 students. Five semi-finalists were Core students, including Ogburn and Pedrotti.

A third Core student, Kiersten Remster, an art history major and German minor from Amherst, Ohio, won the prestigious Austrian Federal Ministry of Education Teaching Assistant Award, which is administered by Fulbright Austria.

Remster will spend 10 months in Hollabrunn, Austria, teaching English and American culture at a private Catholic high school. Remester studied abroad in Salzburg, Austria, in fall 2015 and spent summer 2016 at the University of Oxford in England conducting research.

“I found Austrian culture and the history of the region to be incredibly interesting during my first study abroad experience there,” Remster said. “I hope to gain a better cultural understanding of ties between the U.S. and Austria from this new generation of students I will be teaching.”

All three students were part of the same Core program cohort.

Core is a challenging two-and-a-half year interdisciplinary curriculum in which courses center around the common theme, “Human Values in a Pluralistic Culture,” and fulfill many requirements of the University’s Common Academic Program.

“The interdisciplinary nature of Core influenced both my aspirations outside of the University and also my academic studies at UD,” Remster said. “Core provided a strong foundation of various perspectives that motivated me to go out into the world and experience as much from different cultures and mindsets that I was able to encounter.”

The co-curricular opportunities paired with Core’s integrated course structure are not only unique, but impactful. Pedrotti credits her Core experiences for shaping her future outlook and interests.

“Core helped solidify my interest in history and culture, and my day spent serving at Mission of Mary Farm through Core is one of my favorite memories in college,” Pedrotti said.

William Trollinger, history professor and Core program director, believes the success of these three Core students is indicative of the hard work and accomplishments they made during their academic careers.

“Elizabeth, Kiersten and Kira are remarkable individuals who have performed at the highest level at UD, and are wonderful representatives of UD’s Core program,” he said. “In Core we emphasize academic rigor and interdisciplinary connections, seeking to prepare our students to learn, lead and serve in a global context — precisely what these three young women will do. We could not be prouder of them.”

The students’ plans following the foreign exchange programs vary, but most include graduate school. Ogburn plans to pursue forensic linguistics at Hofstra University and Remster will study European and Mediterranean studies at New York University. Pedrotti has yet to settle on a graduate school or major, but the University of Oregon is on her short list.

As the seniors prepare for graduation in May, the memories are something they will take with them as they travel the world. From great friends, faculty and front porches, the list is long and full of sentiment.

“I will miss the faculty and staff most at UD,” Remster said. “I have grown extremely close with many faculty who have been so supportive and helpful to me over the years. I also will miss the sense of community that we have here. I hope to bring what I have learned of solidarity and inclusivity at UD to my own classroom in Austria.”

All three seniors will speak about their awards and upcoming exchange experiences during the final day of first-year Core lecture (ASI 120) at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, April 27, in the Sears Recital Hall of the Jesse Philips Humanities Center.

- Marissa McCray ’00, administrative assistant, Core program

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