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Fulbright teaching assistantships awarded

RELEASED: May 18, 2011

EAU CLAIRE —Three University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students and an alumna have received English teaching assistantships under the U.S. Student Fulbright program.

Seniors Gina Malagold, Madison, Bethany Webster, Shawano, Whitney Zahn, Menomonee Falls, and 2008 graduate Maria Boland, a native of St. Paul, Minn., have been awarded the grants for the 2011-12 year.

Gina Malagold
Gina Malagold

Malagold is pursuing a Spanish major and Latin American studies minor. She will spend nine months, from March-December, in Argentina. Malagold will teach English to university students who hope to become English professors, while participating in research and volunteering at a children's school to organize an after-school program.

Malagold said she looks forward to the immersion experience and research opportunity. She is eager to focus on her research interests before starting graduate school at UW-Madison.

Bethany Webster
Bethany Webster

Webster, a music and German major, applied to the Fulbright program after tutoring German at
UW-Eau Claire and volunteering at a local elementary school. She will be in Germany from September-June, teaching English and helping students with verbal proficiency. Her outside project will be introducing students and the community to U.S. culture, specifically bluegrass music, through an informational setting and practical performance setting.

"My hope would be to create an interest in the music that lasts after my year is over and to leave participants with the ability to perform the music on their own," Webster said.

Whitney Zahn
Whitney Zahn

Zahn, a German major with a minor in international business, will teach English to high school students in Germany from September-June. Zahn, a member of the UW-Eau Claire forensics team, also plans to start a speech team at the high school.

She came up with the project idea after she found it difficult to convey the concept of forensics to friends from Germany and Austria. While she still has to sort out the details, Zahn said the project will likely include speech performances in a tournament or showcase at the end of the school year.

"I'm definitely looking forward to continuing my involvement in an activity that has been such a major part of my life," Zahn said.

Maria Boland
Maria Boland

Boland, a Latin American studies and Spanish graduate, was awarded a teaching assistantship in Brazil. In her spare time she will work on education initiatives in the community, specifically encouraging girls and low-income students to stay in school. She hopes to create a partnership between the community and Latin American Sustainability Education and Development, the UW-Eau Claire student organization that she helped found during her time in Eau Claire.

Boland works as a bilingual program aid with the Minneapolis Public Schools, helping middle school English language learners in the areas of reading, writing and math. She also is the school's interpreter, translator and Latino community liaison, and teaches two after-school classes in literacy and Latino culture.

According to Dr. Carter Smith, chair of the foreign languages department, the Fulbright is an award of high distinction, earned in an intensely competitive national application process. Smith said that the work the students have done and will do during their Fulbright experience will be transformative.

"Besides highlighting the importance of linguistic and cultural competency in another language, they represent a true commitment to the excellence that we strive for at UW-Eau Claire and to the next steps in truly meaningful lives and careers that are models for active citizenship and lifelong inquiry," Smith said.

In addition to the Fulbright winners, two German language students from UW-Eau Claire have received teaching assistantships through the Austrian Ministry of Higher Education (read news release). According to Smith, this is remarkable for a relatively small German program.

"That our department has six award winners is a testament to the talents and motivation of the students who earned them as well as to the strength of our major programs and to the work those faculties do," Smith said.

For more information about the Fulbright grant program, contact Cheryl Lochner-Wright, campus Fulbright adviser in the Center for International Education, at lochnecb@uwec.edu.

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MC/RD/DW

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