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Two More UW-Eau Claire Graduates Receive
Teaching Assistantships in Austria

RELEASED: July 2, 2008

EAU CLAIRE — Two more recent graduates of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire have been awarded U.S. English Teaching Assistantships in Austria. The assistantships are offered through a program of the Austrian Ministry of Education and administered through the Fulbright Commission in Austria.

Sarah Park Eaton, Rice Lake, and Michelle Dins Mc Auly, Clintonville, are UW-Eau Claire's most recent alumnae to receive the Austrian Fulbright Program assistantships. A third assistantship, awarded to May German education graduate Trisha Monka, Manitowoc, was announced in June (read news release).

Sarah Park Eaton
Sarah Park Eaton

Eaton, a nontraditional student originally from New Mexico, came to UW-Eau Claire to seek a secondary teaching license. She received a bachelor's degree in German and psychology from the University of Southern California in 2005 and finished her student teaching at Eau Claire Memorial High School in June.

Eaton said she applied to the Austrian program because she was seeking a way to reconnect with the German language and culture between the times when she would complete her student teaching and find a full-time job as a high school teacher of German or English as a second language. She will teach English and American culture at two schools in Oberwart, a town of about 8,000 people located in the province of Burgenland.

"I am excited to be going back to Austria," said Eaton, who spent the fall 2004 semester in Vienna and finished her senior year of college in Freiberg, Germany. "I think those of us going will find the experience to be useful, refreshing and completely enjoyable. I have the appointment for a year, with the option of doing another year if I so choose."

Eaton said that after her time in Austria she will probably move back to New Mexico to teach and eventually plans to pursue master's and doctoral degrees in German.

She also noted four UW-Eau Claire professors who guided and supported her through the licensure process: Dr. Susan McIntyre, professor of curriculum and instruction; Dr. Kate Reynolds, director of the university's Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages program and associate professor of foreign languages; Beth Ernst, former director of UW-Eau Claire's English as a Second Language program; and Dr. Jefford Vahlbusch, associate professor of foreign languages.

"These four professors really made an impact, both professionally and personally, in my life, and without them this next step would have been impossible," Eaton said. "Each of them is here not just to instruct, but to coach and counsel their students through life, and I was lucky enough to have had them all as mentors."

Michelle Mc Auly
Michelle Dins Mc Auly

Mc Auly, who graduated in May with a double major in art and German, will visit Austria this fall, working as an English teacher's assistant in the cities of Bregenz and Lauterach in the province of Vorarlberg from October through May 2009.

Mc Auly said she applied to the Austrian Fulbright Program because she wanted to spend more time abroad learning more about the German language and the people who speak it, and to develop a better understanding and appreciation for other cultures. She first studied abroad during the spring semester of 2005 in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany.

After returning from Austria, Mc Auly plans to pursue a teaching degree and hopes to teach both German and art in high school.

"I still can't believe I'm going," said Mc Auly. "It's like a dream come true to be able to go over again to work and live. My husband will be coming with me, and I can't wait for him to be able to share the experience, especially since he's never studied abroad. It is very mind opening to be able to live abroad and experience another way of life."

Mc Auly also thanked several UW Eau Claire professors who were supportive of her application to the program: Dr. Martina Lindseth, professor of foreign languages; Vahlbusch; Dr. Irene Lazda, associate professor of foreign languages; and Dr. Teresa Sanislo, associate professor of history. She particularly wanted to thank Lindseth and Sanislo for their letters of reference and the certificate of German proficiency.

"I can't say in words how wonderful these professors have really been," said Mc Auly. "I never expected to come to a university and find so much support. I also never imagined I would develop such a connection with them. I really feel like they are family, and I already miss them so much."

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