GEORGETOWN, Ky. – Perhaps she didn’t have off-the-chart test scores when she entered Georgetown College, but her potential was quickly recognized by faculty who saw something special in her.
Senior Kelsey Castaneda soon earned her spot in GC’s Honors program and is now a Fulbright Scholar. Her Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship will take her to the Slovak Republic. She begins her new journey in September.
She is the 29th Georgetown College student to receive a Fulbright since 1989.
“The Fulbright award is an honor and it certainly feels surreal to have actually received it,” she said upon learning of the award. “It is something that I have dreamed about for a long time!”
Kelsey recently completed her studies at Oxford University through the GC partnership with Oxford’s Regent’s Park College. She spent some time touring in England and Greece before returning to the Georgetown campus.
“I have always envisioned myself teaching abroad,” said Kelsey. “I feel very humbled, excited, and perhaps even a little nervous to begin this new journey.”
An English major from Columbia, Ky., with minors in Latin and Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Kelsey is the first member of her family to graduate from a traditional four-year college.
Early on, said Dr. Rosemary Allen, Provost, she did not have the test scores usually expected of students who become candidates for the Honors program.
Dr. John Henkel, Assistant Professor of Classics and General Studies, says Kelsey started Latin as a sophomore and, while excited about the subject, wasn’t getting much traction.
“She clearly had a lot of potential and was willing to work hard,” he said, “but she was still learning to organize and discipline her thoughts. That is exactly what Latin is good for: it forces you to approach language in a rigorously analytical way, which, in turn, helps you to be rigorous and analytical about other disciplines as well.”
Dr. Henkel said Kelsey was really motivated to improve her Latin. He met with her every day for about two weeks to go over extra work she had done the night before. By the end of the semester, she was on her way to doing much better.
“Since then, she’s been one of my strongest students, and this semester (spring) was the first Georgetown student to study Latin at Oxford,” said Dr. Henkel who also points out that he’s been valuable as a tutor, helping her fellow students at GC as well as working for Kentucky Educational Television (KET) in their distance-learning Latin course.
“Between this experience and her excellent command of English grammar through Latin, I think she’s going to do a great job teaching English with the Fulbright program,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Another of her professors, Dr. Barbara Burch, Chair of the Department of English, has high praise for Kelsey.
“I first met Kelsey at an early registration workshop,” said Dr. Burch, noting that Kelsey as an entering freshman wasn’t particularly happy and was here (at Georgetown College) because her parents insisted she enroll.
Dr. Burch says in conversation she told Kelsey about all the good things Georgetown had to offer: a great English Department, a creative writing program, the opportunity to study at Oxford, and even the chance to apply for a Fulbright.
“After I went through the list, I said, ‘Which opportunity would you like to pursue?’” said Dr. Burch, to which Kelsey replied, “’All of them.’”
“That is Kelsey,” said Dr. Burch, describing her as one who refuses to be destroyed by disappointment and difficulty. “She is out to prove herself and she does so by pursuing lofty goals that are worth the extraordinary effort they demand. She knows that she is not entitled to success, so she just keeps trying until she achieves.”
“I was tutor for her Georgetown Oxford Tutorial,” said Dr. Allen, who is also GC advisor for the Fulbright program. “I saw in her the kind of determination, grit, and perseverance that made me certain that she was an excellent candidate for a Fulbright.”
Kelsey’s achievement demonstrates the success that comes from the personal attention, caring, guidance, and encouragement students receive at Georgetown College.