Allegheny College Graduate Receives Fulbright Award

Allegheny College graduate Emily Smith will travel to Brazil in February 2020 after receiving a Fulbright award to serve as an English teaching assistant at a Brazilian university.

May 2019 graduate Emily Smith has been awarded a Fulbright to teach in Brazil. Photo Credit: Derek Li

“I will be teaching English classes in various subjects, and I will be spending another 20 hours per week developing and implementing a project of my choice either at my university or in my local community,” says Smith, who is from Williamsville, New York. “I should receive the information about the city where I will be living and working by the end of the summer.”

Smith is one of about 2,100 U.S. citizens who will study, conduct research, and teach abroad for the 2019–2020 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

Smith says she was motivated to apply for the Fulbright to further her Portuguese language study and “begin to learn about an incredibly diverse country that is such an important player in Latin America and the world.”

Smith is a Spanish and international studies double major and has already done extensive traveling as part of her Allegheny learning experience. “Thanks to Allegheny, I was able to have some really incredible international experiences that I don’t think would have been possible if I went to another university,” she says.

“Emily’s focus on Latin America in her international studies major and a semester abroad in Chile have positioned her well for her Fulbright year in Brazil,” says Laura Reeck, professor of French and International Studies Program chair at Allegheny. “Her senior project looks at Colombian and Peruvian migration to Chile over the last 30 years and contributes importantly to an evolving field of research. She is poised to benefit enormously from a Fulbright year in the largest and most populous Latin American country, and one that is not Spanish-speaking. So as Emily teaches English in Brazil, she will also be continuing to learn Brazilian Portuguese and deepening her understanding of Brazilian society and cultures.”

As part of the Global Citizens Scholars Program, Smith received funding to do an independent study abroad program in the fall of 2017 in Valparaíso, Chile, during her junior year. She also had the opportunity to attend a conference in June 2018 in Pune, India, with Professor Reeck. In January 2019, she joined the Global Citizens Scholars Program for a week-long trip to the U.S.-Mexican border to learn about some of the pressing issues regarding border security and spent a day in Nogales, Mexico.

“As a graduating senior, the International Studies Program continues to support me — I received a grant from the department which will allow me to take Portuguese classes in preparation for my time in Brazil. I truly believe that Allegheny is unique in that it supports students in all of their interests and provides them with unique opportunities in their field of study,” says Smith.

Smith says her dual major worked out perfectly for her. “While I was able to follow my interest in Latin America through my Spanish courses, the courses that fulfilled my requirements for international studies allowed me to learn about regions that I was unfamiliar with, and broaden my understanding of global issues,” she says.

Besides her studies, Smith was the president of the Phi Sigma Iota Foreign Language Honor Society, participated in the Global Citizens Scholars Program and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mentoring Program, and was a Quigley Hall office assistant.

Between her graduation on May 11 and her Fulbright trip to Brazil, where she will spend nine months, Smith plans to return to her suburban Buffalo home and work. “I see living abroad for an extended period of time to be an important step toward reaching my career goal, which is to work in international development,” she says. “So more than anything I am looking forward to this opportunity to immerse myself in a new culture.”

Smith joins international studies majors Sarah Shapley ’20 and Kelly Frantz ’16, who earlier had received Fulbright awards.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbrighters address critical global challenges in all disciplines while building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.