Tyler Drozd ’17 and Rachel Birkley ’18 (pictured above) have earned Fulbright Scholarships allowing them to become English Teaching Assistants (ETAs) in Europe beginning in September. At North Central College, both majored in languages, studied abroad and traveled extensively.
Birkley, who majored in elementary education and Spanish, has long known that she was going to apply for a Fulbright. “My passion for travel and international education started when my family hosted two foreign exchange students,” she says. “In 2016, I headed to Seville, Spain, for study abroad. I fell in love with the Spanish culture, people and the way of life. I knew I had to come back.”
Birkley will teach in the La Rioja region of Spain and hopes to connect the Spanish culture with her hometown of Lisle, Ill. through a pen pal project. She plans to become a teacher in a bilingual classroom or international setting when she returns.
Drozd majored in Spanish and German while at North Central, studied abroad in Spain and Germany and chose the latter for his Fulbright application. “I really love the people and culture (in Germany),” he said, adding that he’ll be teaching English in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, located near Hamburg. Drozd presented research on film and German culture at the Rall Symposium for Undergraduate Research in 2017, which he said was also important to his Fulbright application.
The Fulbright applicants were advised and mentored by Kristin Geraty, associate professor of sociology and associate dean for engaged learning; Pearce Durst, assistant professor of English and interim coordinator of prestigious national fellowships; and Gregory Wolf, Dennis and Jean Bauman Professor in the Humanities and Professor of German.