Three Luther College students receive Fulbright awards

The Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has selected Luther students Kirsten Jacobson, class of 2012; Kimberly Rooney, class of 2014; and Becca Rudquist, class of 2014, to receive Fulbright awards for the 2014-15 academic year.

The highly competitive Fulbright foreign scholarship award provides funds for a year's educational experience abroad, including travel, health insurance and a monthly stipend to cover living expenses.

The Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program, an element of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, fosters mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries by providing a native English speaker in their schools.

Two of Luther's Fulbright honorees, Jacobson and Rooney, are first cousins and will both serve as English teaching assistants in their Fulbright assignments.

Kirsten Jacobson

Jacobson, from Platteville, Wisconsin, graduated from Luther in 2012 with a degree in history and French, and will serve as an English teaching assistant in Vietnam.

"I am an educator at heart. I come from a large family of educators who are now spread around the world. Their example ignited a love of learning in me long ago. That love has only deepened to a passion for education, particularly international and intercultural education," Jacobson said.

As a history teacher, Jacobson is deeply curious about Vietnam's unique history and interactions with the United States and France. She intends to bring to her classrooms energy and creativity fostered by a variety of teaching experiences

Kimberly Rooney

Rooney, from Holmen, Wisconsin, graduated from Luther in January 2014 with a degree in French and Africana studies, and will serve as an English teaching assistant in Senegal.

"My natural inclination for teaching has grown into a bold passion. I am driven by the excitement of discovering a diverse world with my students and diverse perspectives via different words but equally as important via different cultures," Rooney said.

Over the year, Rooney intends to volunteer and observe in Senegalese school systems, gaining knowledge from their educators and students about Senegalese philosophies while sharing her own cultural and international experiences.

Becca Rudquist

Rudquist, from Deer River, Minnesota, will graduate from Luther in May 2014. She is majoring in English and will serve as an English teaching assistant in Malaysia.

"I am looking for an immersive, day-to-day living experience in a multi-layered culture. As I am exposed to diverse ways of thinking and acting, I continue to develop my definitions of education and global citizenship, and engage in an international movement toward cooperative connections, healthy communities and holistic perspectives," Rudquist said.

Rudquist aims to become a better teacher during her time abroad. Malaysia's rich religious, social, environmental and economic diversity is of particular interest to her.

Jacobson, Rooney and Rudquist submitted their post-graduate education proposals to the Fulbright program through the college's honors committee. Final selections are made by the presidentially appointed 12-member Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

The Fulbright Foreign Scholarship is sponsored by the State Department and is the largest U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

Grantees are expected to become involved in the communities in which they travel and serve during their year abroad to increase understanding between the people of the United States and those of the more than 155 countries that currently participate in the Fulbright Program.

The program, introduced to Congress by Senator J. William Fulbright, was established in 1946 in order to foster leadership, learning and empathy between cultures. Since its inception, more than 325,000 Fulbrighters have participated in the program.

Fulbright scholars have been awarded 53 Nobel Prizes, 80 Pulitzer Prizes, and 28 have been named MacArthur Foundation Fellows. Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, ambassadors, heads of corporations, artists, university presidents, journalists, professors and teachers. Among the most prominent grantees are former Prime Minister of Haiti Gary Conille, founder of Grameen Bank and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, composer Philip Glass, opera singer Renee Fleming and President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos.

Left to right: Kirsten Jacobson, Kimberly Rooney and Becca Rudquist