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MU Has Three Semi-Finalists in Fulbright US Student Program

One Monmouth University student and two alumni were selected as semi-finalists into the Fulbright U.S. Student Program this semester. This program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the Institute for International Education (IEE), affords students the opportunity to conduct research while teaching English to citizens across the globe. The selected students include Reya Foster, a senior Spanish and Education student, Brittany Scardigno ‘21, and Jennifer Stolte ‘18 and ‘22.

According to Mihaela Moscaliuc, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English and Fulbright Program Advisor, “The Fulbright is one of the most highly-regarded and well-established international educational exchange programs. Its mission is to foster mutual understanding between nations, advance exchanges of knowledge across borders, and help build global and local communities.” Moscaliuc also told The Outlook that accepted students are granted teaching assistantships and the resources to perform research projects in over 140 countries, normally lasting 9-12 months.

In order to receive these grants, semifinalists’ credentials and projects are first reviewed by the U.S. National Screening Committee before being put through the final round of their respective English Teaching Assistant Programs for the 2022-23 competition.

Moscaliuc elaborated on this process and the factors the committee considers when reviewing candidates. “The US National Screening Committee, which consists of U.S. scholars and faculty with expertise in various countries or world region and specific fields of study, evaluates each application on the quality and feasibility of the proposal, the applicant’s academic or professional record, and personal qualifications and qualities that would make the potential grantee a great cultural representative of the U.S. abroad,” She said. “Once selected by the U.S. National Committee, the applicant becomes a semi-finalist, and the application is forwarded to the supervising agency in the host country.”

Students interested in this program coordinate with Monmouth’s Institute of Global Understanding (IGU). Randall Abate, JD, Professor and Rechnitz Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy, said, “We are very excited and proud of the Fulbright national semi-finalist recognition that Reya, Jennifer, and Brittany have earned. It reflects very well on them, the IGU, and the university. If selected for their respective country placements, they will have the privilege to engage in a one-of-a-kind experience that will enrich them professionally and personally.”

As one of the semi-finalists, Reya Foster reflected on her feelings about the program. “I am grateful for this opportunity, and I am extremely humbled. I would have not made it this far without the help of my family and the dedicated professors at Monmouth University. I am happy with knowing that I did my very best, and I am prepared for whatever the outcome may be,” said Foster.

She continued, “Since I applied for the English Teaching Assistantship, I wanted to create a project that involves the community, integrating an educational component. I want to promote mutual understanding, multiculturalism and collaboration while adhering to and upholding existing Paraguayan legislature on education.” Foster relayed her goals of creating open forums that foster orality and interpersonal communication, as well as inspiring individuals to thirst after knowledge. “[I wanted] to be an active participant in the beautiful Paraguayan culture and learn as much as possible from the students and teachers,” she said.

Brittany Scardigno, the second semifinalist, also applied for the English Teaching Assistantship Program, but in South Korea. In addition to being a recent graduate and an Adjunct Professor of English at Monmouth, she also teaches English courses at Brookdale Community College. “Now more than ever, English is sometimes students’ second or third language inside the classroom, so I have the privilege to experience how to effectively teach English-based writing to multilingual students,” said Scardigno.

Scardigno, like Foster, is thankful for the opportunity to research and learn from IGU’s faculty, regardless of the outcomes. Scardigno said, “No matter where this experience leads me, this process was so worth it. You learn a lot about yourself as well as another culture and language, which is so rewarding in itself. It really makes you question why you want to do something and what led you to where you are now, which is a beautiful thing.”

The third semi-finalist, Jennifer Stolte, tailored her research to the regional community of Galicia, Spain. As someone who is exploring methods of creating a multilingual educational system, “The biggest goal for my career was to create a multilingual or a plurilingual curriculum for a school district. So, I’m hoping that it all works out, because it would allow me to have the best experience,” said Stolte.

Students interested in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program can contact Dr. Moscaliuc at mmoscali@monmouth.edu.