Senior secondary social studies education major Gillian Engelbrecht was awarded a Fulbright scholarship. She will be going overseas to India for nine months. In India, she will teach children, grades 6-8, the English language.
Engelbrecht has always known that she wanted to be a teacher. When she was in high school, she took AP world history and loved it. She discovered her passion for history and realized that she wanted to pursue a career involving history and teaching.
While at Elizabethtown College, Engelbrecht has cultivated her love for teaching and service work. She has been in ample activities and leadership roles in which she could combine her passions.
Engelbrecht was the past president of Circle K and a member of Intervarsity Christian Club, orchestra and wind ensemble, Education Organization and KDP which is an education honor society.
Of her many extracurricular activities, Engelbrecht most enjoyed Circle K club.
“I love being involved with Circle K as president because it is a service-oriented organization, and that is important to me,” she said. “When I first joined the club, it was a small club, and I had the opportunity to have a leadership position. Since then, Circle K has grown it’s presence on campus. I have enjoyed having a meaningful service and leadership opportunity through the club.”
In addition to her extracurricular activities, Engelbrecht has jobs working as a tutor, tour guide and archivist in the library.
Englebrecht has completed multiple signature learning experiences while at E-town. She has done SCARP through her occupation as an archivist, studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France for a semester, completed student teaching, senior seminar, worked on her thesis through research and interned at the Baltimore Ed. Research Consociation.
Through these experiences, Engelbrecht became a better-rounded student. She most enjoyed studying abroad.
“It helped me learn more about other cultures, while instilling an independence and confidence in myself,” Engelbrecht explained.
Her cross-cultural experience is part of the reason she applied for the Fulbright scholarship.
“Knowing that I survived a semester abroad gave me the confidence that I could do it again for the Fulbright scholarship,” she said.
Engelbrecht was prompted to apply for the Fulbright scholarships by some of her professors, especially President Carl Strikwerda and Dean of Curriculum and Assessment, College Registrar and professor of history Dr. Brian Newsome.
They recommended she apply because of Engelbrecht’s interest in other cultures as well as her major, which directly correlates with the English teaching assistant Fulbright scholarship.
Additionally, Engelbrecht researched the scholarship and discovered that the past two years’ winners have been STAMPS scholars. She also has a STAMPS scholarship.
“They have a similar background to me, and I thought that I may have a potential to win it,” she said.
Engelbrecht is excited to teach children in India.
“I would like to do community service outreach for a program called Women’s Literary Iniatives, where I would teach women the English language,” she explained. “This is important to me because women’s literacy rates in English are low in India.”
Engelbrecht will be leaving for India in late June. She will return to the States at the end of March. At this point in time, she is unsure of the exact part of India she will be stationed in.
“I am nervous, as most students would be, because I will be gone for a long time,” Engelbrecht said.
Once awarded the honor, she was inundated with support and congratulations from family, friends and faculty.
“They have all expressed outpouring love in my decision to go to India,” she stated.
When her professors found out that she won, Engelbrecht was congratulated with hugs, high-fives and candy.
“My professors are extremely excited for me,” Engelbrecht said. “Even though I never thought that I would get the Fulbright scholarship, they told me that they knew all along I would win. It is very encouraging to hear that.”
Engelbrecht is humbled and proud to have won the Fulbright scholarship.
“I never imagined that I would have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said.
She recognized that other applicants are highly qualified and was thrilled she was selected.
Engelbrecht has had multiple faculty mentors who positively shaped her life. Newsome, her FYS adviser, encouraged her to apply for the scholarship. He also is her minor academic adviser.
“He has been very encouraging to me and taught me a lot about history,” she said.
Education Department Chair and associate professor of education Dr. Rachel Finley-Bowman and assistant professor of education Dr. Peter Licona are Engelbrecht’s thesis advisers.
“They both have been instrumental in supporting me and encouraging me to apply for the Fulbright scholarship and grad school,” she explained. “They have forced me to push boundaries in my education and improve my practice in education.”
Director of Student Transition Programs and Prestigious Scholarships and Fellowships professor Jean-Paul Benowitz helped Englebrecht perfect her scholarship application. She currently has been working with him for a prestigious scholarship. Benowitz aided her in finding strong resources and looking over her application.
In Education 341, English Learners and Cultural Diversity, Engelbrecht learned valuable skills.
“This course has helped me cement my idea for my thesis,” she said. “I wanted to incorporate more multicultural learning education into teaching.”
On the whole, Etown’s education program has guided Engelbrecht.
“It has prepared me for my future through its educational experiences, exposure to classroom teaching and learning different educational philosophies,” she said. “Etown’s motto, ‘Educate for Service,’ has served as a mantra for myself by encouraging me to help students through my talents and passions.”
After India, Engelbrecht has been accepted to Vanderbilt and Maryland University Graduate Programs. She is unsure which one she will attend. Engelbrecht will study multicultural education for one year and then will look for teaching positions.
“Post-college, I am most looking forward to having my own classroom because I love student teaching,” she explained. “I cannot wait to experience this everyday for the rest of most of my life!”
Please note: Staff writer, Brianna Titi, originally wrote this article for The Etownian published on April 12, 2018. The Etownian is Elizabethtown College’s student newspaper. Click here to view the original article.
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