Kirgan Earns Fulbright to Teach in Turkey

Elizabethtown College recently announced that Shanna Kirgan, a senior English education major, received a Fulbright award that will allow her to continue her studies in Turkey.

The Fulbright Award offers many different kinds of scholarships, such as research grants, music and art-specific grants and foreign policy fellowships. Kirgan received an award that will allow her to spend approximately nine months in Turkey, where she will work as an English teaching assistant (ETA) alongside a Turkish professor in a university setting.

“Kirgan is currently student teaching and became interested in the Fulbright program as a result of her participation in the Called to Lead program at Etown,” Associate Professor of English John Rohrkemper said. “She decided she wanted to bring her interest in teaching English to another country to embody the college’s motto ‘Educate for Service’ on an international level. This is a great honor for her, the English department and the College, but it also is a rigorous challenge for Kirgan to honorably represent herself and her country to the world. I have no doubt she will rise to that challenge.”

Kirgan worked with Etown’s Assistant Director of Prestigious Scholarships and Fellowships Joel Janisewski to help make her application the best it could be. “I began the application in June. In all, we worked through nine drafts of my written application statement until I felt it was strong enough for submission in October. I received news in late January that I had passed the first round in the selection process, and just last week, I found out via email that I had been granted a place in the program. I hadn’t planned on hearing back either way for at least another month, so it came as a total shock!” She said.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program usually provides grants for an entire academic year and tends to cover all expenses. The applicant pool of recent graduates, undergraduates, master’s and doctoral students and young professionals is highly competitive with about 15 to 20 percent of applicants selected for a study and research grant. “Potential applicants for the Fulbright should definitely study abroad and start thinking about the Fulbright in more detail ideally by their junior year,” Janisewski said. (Shanna studied abroad in New Zealand the fall of her junior year).

“The faculty members at Etown encourage students to become more globally minded and to pursue meaningful work. Programs such as the Fulbright combine this attitude with the College’s mission to ‘Educate for Service.’ Etown may be small, but the success of our students and alumni demonstrates that we have competitive programs here, and we can do great things,” Kirgan said.

Rohrkemper said, “I have taught Kirgan in several courses, sponsored her as a SCAD presenter and served as a member of the committee that recently awarded her honors in the discipline for English. She is an exceptional student who will represent the College and America well in her tenure as a Fulbright scholar.”

Kirgan is looking forward to exploring all that Turkey offers and learning about a culture much different from that of America. “I chose to go to Turkey because it was, originally, a country I knew very little about but felt very drawn towards. More than anything, I want to understand the duality of modernity and traditionalism that seems to exist in Turkish culture and how people are responding to recent changes. Despite what we hear or do not hear in the media, I simply want to get closer to the truth. The mission of the Fulbright program is to build mutual understanding between the United States and foreign countries, and this is exactly what I want to do, even if only on a small scale,” Kirgan said.

“I want to encourage students to continually explore their options for after college and to be aware of the valuable resources we have here on campus. There are so many amazing opportunities out there and none are too far out of reach if you really work for it,” Kirgan said.

According the Rohrkemper, the Fulbright awards were founded after World War II by J. William Fulbright, a former U.S. senator. “He was deeply committed to enhancing peaceful and constructive relationships between the United States and the rest of the world. Many of its programs send senior faculty scholars to various parts of the world and bring scholars from around the world to the United States. It also has programs for graduate and undergraduate students. It is among the most competitive and prestigious awards that any scholar can receive,” Rohrkemper said.

Please note: Staff writer, Kelly Moore, originally wrote this article for The Etownian published on April 10, 2014. The Etownian is Elizabethtown College’s student newspaper. Click here to view the original article.

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