NAU grad Sierra Pritchard returns to teach in Germany on a Fulbright Scholarship

Sierra Pritchard

Growing up, NAU graduate Sierra Pritchard always dreamed of exploring the world. As an avid reader, she wanted to discover the places of those she read about in her books. Since then, she has traveled to Mexico, Canada and several places in Europe, include Switzerland and Germany. Come January, she returns to Germany for an extended stay as the recipient of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award.

“Choosing Germany for the Fulbright seemed like a no-brainer for me,” Pritchard said. “I began studying German my junior year of high school. I continued to study the language and culture throughout college through courses while working toward my minor in German or by immersing myself in the language and culture in Switzerland when I studied abroad sophomore year.”

Pritchard, a Phoenix native, started at Northern Arizona University as a secondary education major, but she switched to English to focus on her goal of teaching English to speakers of other languages. She graduated magna cum laude in May 2019 from the NAU Honors College and took a gap year to apply for graduate schools and programs like the Fulbright.

Her final teaching placement in the program is pending, but she will be a teacher’s assistant for an English class in Germany, teaching students between the elementary and secondary school levels. Inspired by her time working with the NAU International Student and Scholar Services, Pritchard also requested to teach in the diversity program where a majority of students come from minority and refugee backgrounds.

Currently, Pritchard is enrolled in a master’s program at the University of Montana, which she hopes to return to and finish after Germany. She has plans to earn a doctoral degree where she will continue to teach and tutor the English language while researching the evolution and adaptation of the English language and literature. She sees the Fulbright scholarship as an opportunity to aid her plans.

“As a Fulbrighter, you are acting as an ambassador for the U.S. to learn about your host country’s culture and to share yours as well as the other cultures within the U.S. that are different from your own,” she said. “Now more than ever, I believe this connection is vital to promote understanding and acceptance among people from different backgrounds and cultures.”

She looks forward to meeting new people, the challenges this experience holds and where it will lead her next.

“When I studied abroad in Switzerland, the people I met and the cultures I was able to experience, as well as my struggles navigating a new place, ultimately shaped me and helped me grow as a more open-minded and curious person.”

As she packs her bags yet again, she leaves those curious about the Fulbright scholarship with these words.

“I highly suggest that you apply for the Fulbright! I applied for an English Teaching Assistantship, but there are many other types of Fulbrights such as those based in research, which take place in countries around the world.”

The Fulbright Program was created in 1946 after President Harry S. Truman signed a bill from Congress posed by Sen. J. William Fulbright. The mission of the Fulbright program is to foster international partnerships between the U.S. and other countries.

Fulbright applications for the 2021-22 year are due Oct. 13. 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 next year or in the future should email

Pritchard plans to leave mid-January, but remains in communication with the Fulbright team regarding concerns around COVID-19.

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Jacklyn Walling | NAU Communications