Ashley Heffernen named Fulbright English Teaching Assistant

News in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at Luther College

The Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has selected Ashley Heffernen, Luther College class of 2014, to receive a Fulbright award for the 2015-16 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.

Heffernen, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, graduated from Luther in December 2014 after earning a bachelor's degree in Spanish and a minor in music. She will serve the Fulbright program as an English teaching assistant in Mexico.

"I applied to Mexico's ETA program because I believe in the importance of individual voices; I believe that the best way for individuals to learn to use their voices is through education," said Heffernen.

She submitted her post-graduate education proposal to the Fulbright program through Luther College's honors committee. Final selections to the ETA program are made by the presidentially appointed 12-member Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

"I plan to uphold Fulbright's mission by living my own mission: treat other humans as humans. Listen with the intention to understand, help willingly and gratefully. Learn always, teach always. Live empathically. And don't waste a single day," Heffernen said.

The Fulbright ETA program is sponsored and managed by the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Fulbright ETAs placed in classrooms abroad assist in strengthening English language instruction and provide insight on American culture.

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.

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,400, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the bachelor of arts degree in 60 majors and preprofessional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website:

Ashley Heffernen