Only a year ago, Georgetown College celebrated a first – two seniors receiving Fulbright Scholarships, the prestigious teaching-abroad awards named for the powerful, late Sen. J. William Fulbright and funded by the United States Department of State.
Breaking that record in 2007 are seniors Jordan Yeager, Sarah Sebastian and Brittany Pappas – the College’s 15th-17th Fulbrights since 1990. They’ll be teaching English in Spain, Hong Kong and Germany, respectively, for the 2007-08 school year.
“We see Georgetown moving up. Three is a pretty impressive number of grantees for a small school,” said Jody Dudderar, assistant director for U.S. student programs at the Institute of International Education. Approximately 1,400 Fulbright scholarships are awarded with housing, stipend and salary included. About 20 percent are still to be named for this year, but last year, Centre College and Berea College were the only other Kentucky independents with Fulbright Scholars – one each.
Even though Provost Rosemary Allen had her fingers crossed and lips sealed about their chances, she’s not surprised by the momentum that’s been growing at Georgetown. “As students witness what recent graduates have done, they are prepared to give it a try themselves,” Dr. Allen said. “The success of these three is testimony to the ambition, determination and quality of our student body.”
“I’m particularly pleased at how diverse these three students are in their interests,” Allen continued. She also noted that all have had life-changing experiences at Georgetown, emboldening them for the future.
The senior Biology major from Lancaster (KY) claimed a two-week, summer departmental trip to Belize in ’04 for a Tropical Biology course best prepared her for what lies ahead.
“I had to learn to be flexible, to be tolerant of cultural differences and to be willing to try and do new things,” said Sarah, who’s also a double minor in Chemistry and Psychology. That flexibility was tested when she learned she’s going to Hong Kong instead of South Korea – like ’06 Fulbrights Katie Dale (with whom she’s communicated) and Melinda Hall.
Sarah has also taken advantage of several Christian Leadership Scholarship mission trips and retreats. Though she’s not part of the program, Philosophy professor Roger Ward calls her an “honorary member. “Dr. Ward was a great influence,” she said. “In his Vocations seminar, I was constantly evaluating decisions and motives in my life.”
Said Dr. Allen, “I’m so proud of Sarah because as a ‘sciences’ major she’s going outside her comfort zone to teach English in China. But, this will make her stand out when she applies to med school.”
Since she plans to be a pediatrician and starting a family in 10 years, Sarah hopes to work or volunteer for a children’s hospital while in Hong Kong. A Dean’s List student, she is waiting for her last summer’s work with the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research to be published. She will graduate magna cum laude May 12 with a 3.75 GPA.
Spanish and Education double major and English minor, the senior from Somerset has been on The Georgetonian newspaper staff since his sophomore year (copy editor, opinion page editor, managing editor). And, he was in concert choir for seven semesters until he had to give it up for student teaching – first at Scott County High and now Lexington’s Maxwell Elementary, the only Spanish-immersion school in Fayette County.
“He’s made a big impact with us,” said Mel Oldham ’68, a kindergarten teacher at Maxwell who has her rank one from Georgetown College. “His Spanish accent is so good. We thought he’d been to Peru for six months…but it turned out he was there only a week. We wish we could keep him!”
“We’ll remember Jordan for bringing in the music and teaching my kids to Salsa dance,” said Laura Prather, his Spanish 1 and 2 supervising teacher at Scott County earlier this semester. “They were out dancing in the halls for the other teachers!”
For someone who’s wanted to be a Spanish teacher since he arrived four years ago, teaching English in Madrid is ideal for him. In typical Jordan fashion, he said, “Ideally, I will settle down with a rich, attractive Spanish woman and live in Spain the rest of my life. In the unlikely event it doesn’t work out that way, I’d like to be a Spanish or ESL teacher somewhere in Kentucky.”
“Jordan’s completely fearless…will try anything,” Dr. Allen said. “I was immediately entranced by his humor, maturity and intelligence. I would’ve adopted him.”
Jordan, who will graduate summa cum laude, he’s made Dean’s List all four years and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
A senior from Mechanicsburg, PA, she studied in Germany four weeks with the KIIS program in 2004. She got a sneak peek at the Fulbright experience when she visited Georgetown’s 12th Scholar, Michael Puglisi, at his assignment in Luedenscheid (north of Berlin) during her spring break from the College’s Oxford University partner, Regent’s Park, last year. And, she’ll take two intense German courses in Freiburg, Germany to complete a second major before teaching English to German high school students this fall.
A 2005 winner for Georgetown in Accounting Principles at the Phi Beta Lamba National Leadership Conference, Brittany plans to pursue a Master’s in Economics (her other major) or Financial Economics (she’s a Math minor).
“Brittany is a blend of poise, intelligence and intellectual adventurousness,” Dr. Allen said. “She puts learning above the importance of grades.
“Nothing surprises me about Brittany, who came here destined for success.”
But, her pet project during her Fulbright year may surprise – unless you knew she’d been home-schooled. “I’m helping promote making home-schooling a legal parental choice in Germany,” said Brittany, who has contacted the director of The Network for Freedom in Education and hopes to talk to German government officials to see where all this could lead.
“Surely, in 10 years, I’ll be home-schooling one or two of my children, and of course, teaching them German,” she said.
A President’s Ambassador and a recent inductee into Phi Kappa Phi honorary society, she will graduate summa cum laude with a 3.975 GPA.