Fulbright awards scholarships to three alums
Ericka Hummel ’08 and Daniel Wilson ’06 both have early memories of Germany, as both visited or lived in the country as children. Now, they will return as Fulbright scholars.“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Hummel said. “I’m excited about everything.”Hummel lived in Germany for three years as a young girl, spent a J-Term in Berlin and majored in German. Wilson, who also majored in the language, first visited the country as a third-grader and then spent a J-Term in Cologne and semester in Berlin. This fall, each will return to Germany on 10-month Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships.
Additionally, Jennifer Henrichsen ’07 received a Fulbright research award to complete an advance master’s degree in international and European security in a joint program between the University of Geneva’s European Institute and the Geneva Center for Security Policy in Switzerland. Her research will focus on press protection in conflict situations.
The trio brings the total number of PLU students to ever receive the prestigious award to 79.
“I have a real passion, first and foremost, for teaching,” Hummel said. “I also have a passion for other cultures.”
The Fulbright scholarship fits well with her goal to eventually teach high school German, she said. She’ll be immersed in the German culture, working in a 400-year-old school assisting native teachers in teaching English. She’ll also have the opportunity to share her culture.
“It’s what the Fulbright is all about,” she said. “The world is becoming a smaller place, and learning to identify with other cultures more matters in every aspect of life, from politics to economics to education.”
PLU German professors encouraged Hummel and Wilson to apply for the program, with Hummel prodded by Kirsten Christensen and Wilson by Janet Holmgren. PLU professors also played a role in Henrichsen reapplying for the grant – last year, she received a research grant but wasn’t accepted to a Swiss university.
The application process is long and arduous, and Hummel and Wilson said they struggled to write the personal essays detailing their life and passion for the Fulbright program.
“I knew in my heart what it meant to be a Fulbrighter, but it was hard to put it on paper,” Hummel said. Dozens of drafts and feedback from PLU experts helped each find the right words.
“I’m really indebted to a lot of people at PLU for their support during the process,” Wilson said.
Like anyone set to embark on a 10-month journey to a foreign country, both Fulbright teaching assistants have apprehensions. Along with rusty German speaking skills, Wilson said he’s nervous about feeling at home in his new community. He imagines he’ll take it all in stride. After all, it’s simply a matter of perspective.
“My philosophy as a traveler has sort of been that there’s not really a bad situation, but only how you make it work,” he said.
Hummel and Wilson leave for Germany in early September. Henrichsen received an additional French language scholarship from the Fulbright program and the Swiss government. She leaves June 26 for nine weeks of language training, and begins her master’s program in the fall.
Fulbright scholarships are awarded to U.S. citizens to study overseas. The program, founded in 1946 to promote “international good will through the exchange of students,” operates in more than 140 countries. It provides funding for one academic year of study or an English teaching assistantship experience.