Northern Arizona University graduate Anna Barrett is the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award and will head to Asia for a year to further her education and immerse herself in South Korean culture.
Barrett majored in elementary education with additional majors in history and sociology. She also graduated with a Gold Axe Award, which recognizes students for their dedication and commitment to academics as well as service to the NAU campus and surrounding Flagstaff community.
“My favorite thing about teaching is connecting with each student and seeing their ‘aha’ moment after they learn something new and master it,” Barrett said.
Come January, she will use the teaching skills she has learned at NAU and fly to South Korea to be an English teacher for elementary school-aged students.
“I decided to apply as a teaching assistant in South Korea because my brother was adopted from there,” Barrett said. “I love the country, and because of my brother, this culture has taught and shaped me so much as a person. I want to give back to a country that gave so much to me.”
Barrett said the South Korean culture has taught her about bias, racism, judgement and acceptance. Her teaching program will last almost a year, and the scholarship will allow her to live in the country while she teaches to improve both her academic knowledge by leading a classroom and her cultural knowledge by immersing herself in the community and the culture.
“I am so excited to sharpen my teaching skills and learn more techniques that I can use for the rest of my life,” she said. “The Fulbright Scholarship will allow me a foothold into my career which I will use to develop and spread awareness of cultural inclusion.”
The Fulbright Scholarship is sponsored by the Fulbright Program, whose mission is to foster international partnerships between the United States and other countries. Citizens and governments work together to evaluate priorities and shape the program to meet the needs of all the participants. The program was established in 1946 after President Harry S. Truman signed a bill from Congress authored by Sen. J. William Fulbright, representative of Arkansas.
To Barrett, this scholarship symbolizes a commitment and promise to improving the field of education and teaching.
“The Fulbright Scholarship represents my hard work throughout my academic career up to this point,” she said. “I have worked hard to get where I am today, and this scholarship is more incentive to work twice as hard to improve the field of education. It represents my commitment to serving others—something I value highly—my love for cultural acceptance, the knowledge I have gained through observing and listening to others who are different from myself and my love of South Korean culture and education.”
For some, the application process for the scholarship is daunting, but Barrett said as long as she took the time it needed, the rest was easy. She submitted her first application in October, waited three months for the announcement that she was a semi-finalist and then waited an additional four months before receiving the notice she had won.
“The hardest part of the whole process was the waiting, but looking back, it was all worth it!”
Upon returning from South Korea, Barrett said she is unsure about her plans, but she is certain she will continue teaching for the rest of her life. She has a goal to earn a master’s degree in teaching and hopes to teach middle school students somewhere in the Northwest.
“I have always loved teaching and children,” she said. “I want to make an impact on the world and for me, teaching our younger generation is the most impactful and important thing I can do. I am excited to learn a new language, gain outdoor experiences and make new lifelong friends!”
More on the Fulbright Scholarship
Today, a network of more than 1,650 volunteer Fulbright Program advisers exist on campuses nationwide to help recruit and advise applicants. Applications for the 2022-23 year are due at 5 p.m. EDT Oct. 12. Interested applicants should visit the Fulbright U.S. Student Program website to learn more about the process and eligibility requirements. Students and alumni interested in applying for a Fulbright grant or other national scholarships next year or in the future should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jacklyn Walling | NAU Communications