Baylor Students Selected For Fulbright Scholarship

  • News Photo 4468
    Cleyera Martin
  • News Photo 4467
    Lauren Hughes
May 13, 2008

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Two Baylor University seniors - Lauren Hughes of Cedar Creek Lake and Cleyera Martin of Kemp - have been selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, bringing the number of Baylor students who have received the honor since 2001 to 14.

The flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, the Fulbright Program is designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries." With this goal as a starting point, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 286,000 participants -- chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential -- with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Hughes, an international studies major and German minor, and Martin, a German major, will teach English in Germany during the 2008-09 academic year as part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) Program. They both will receive their Baylor degrees on May 17.

The ETA program places U.S. students as English teaching assistants in schools or universities overseas, improving foreign students' English language abilities and knowledge of the United States, while enhancing the Fulbright recipients' own language skills and knowledge of the host country. ETAs may also pursue individual study/research plans in addition to their teaching responsibilities.

Hughes said the Fulbright will allow her to serve as a cultural ambassador, while synthesizing her education, personal interests, work and volunteer experiences into actual practice in the field of international education.

"In combination with my knowledge of the German language, culture and international studies, the Fulbright is an ideal step towards my specific trajectory of publishing culturally educational children's books and taking an active role in international education advocacy," Hughes said.

While at Baylor, Hughes has studied abroad at the Goethe Institute in Germany, the Florence University of Arts in Italy and in Southeast Asia with the Baylor in Thailand program. While studying in Thailand, she also traveled to Hong Kong and Cambodia.

"While these experiences broadened my perspective on international education, my pedagogical interests were always focused on Germany," Hughes said. "Studying the German language and culture at Baylor has provided a good theoretical basis so that I will be able to adapt quickly to the realities which cannot be taught in a classroom. I also like working with and meeting new people, which is a necessity when teaching English as a foreign language."

Martin applied for the Fulbright, and particularly the English teaching assistant role, after serving as a German tutor, assisting Germans with their English language skills during her Baylor study abroad experience at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität in Freiburg, Germany, and hearing the personal accounts from professors and previous Fulbright grantees.

"I was attracted to the Fulbright program because it would provide me with the unique opportunity to focus on developing my teaching skills and my German language ability while at the same time imparting valuable skills to my students," Martin said.

Martin said the study of a foreign language is vital for cross-cultural understanding.

"Through a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany, I will contribute my efforts to promote better understanding between Germans and Americans, as well as to work toward achieving my own personal goals of becoming a teacher of foreign languages," she said.

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

"Many professors in German worked closely with both of these students and were exceedingly committed to supporting both Lauren and Cleyera in their bids for these awards to teach English in Germany next year," said Elizabeth Vardaman, Baylor's Fulbright representative and associate dean in the College of Arts and Sciences.

One of those professors was Dr. Andrew C. Wisely, director of the Honors Program and the German and Russian division and associate professor of German, who described Hughes and Martin as "organized, disciplined, creative and open to suggestions." He said the Fulbright Program focuses on knowledge of the host country, language skills, and the maturity, motivation and flexibility necessary to best represent the United States abroad.

"Both had great ideas for teaching English in Germany that came as a result of being themselves students in German classes at Baylor. In addition, they did the necessary groundwork by taking classes in Germany - Cleyera for a semester in Freiburg, and Lauren for a summer in Gottingen," Wisely said. "It was easy for the committee to tell by their applications and interviews that Cleyera and Lauren had concrete ways to support Fulbright's mission of peacekeeping and mutual understanding, both inside and outside their future classrooms."

Hughes and Martin both will receive their Baylor degrees on May 17. They said they chose to attend Baylor for several reasons but mainly because of the personal support of Baylor faculty.

"The Baylor Interdisciplinary Core was a major factor in deciding to attend Baylor," Hughes said. "The Baylor faculty provides a supportive atmosphere for the students, and I am glad to say that I know most of the faculty for the BIC, international studies and German department by name. There are so many instances when Baylor faculty and staff really went out of their way to help me and to advise me on normal life challenges as well as career choices. The support system at the university is simply wonderful and the opportunities to grow as a person are worth the choice of attending a private university."

"While corresponding with Baylor throughout the application process, I definitely felt that I was important and not just a number on a long list of applicants," Martin said. "While at Baylor, I have had the chance to experience that first hand. I have not had any professors who had not been willing to take time out of their schedules to help me succeed in any way, whether it was academic help outside the classroom, letters of recommendation or just general advice. Everyone needs this kind of support, especially during the college years when we're on the brink of adulthood."

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by then-Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the United States Department of State.

For more information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, visit http://exchanges.state.gov.

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