Undergrad earns Fulbright to study and teach English

Abou Touré, Fulbright scholar

As a young boy, Abou Touré set his sights on education to improve his life and some day give back to his home country.

“I knew studying was my only option,” said Touré, who recently received a two-year scholarship from the Fulbright Institute of International Education to earn a degree at Northern Arizona University.

A junior at NAU, Touré is pursuing an English degree so he may one day teach it to university students in Mauritania, the African country where he was born and raised.

Touré said he was born poor and to parents who were illiterate and is the first of his family’s seven siblings to attend college.

“Abou’s story is a true success story of rewarding academic achievement and perseverance,” said Harvey Charles, vice provost for International Education at NAU. “NAU has always been committed to attracting the best and the brightest students. Probably no other U.S. program symbolizes this standard than the Fulbright Scholar program.”

By being one of four students chosen from his country for the scholarship, Touré is receiving $43,816 for his two remaining years of study at NAU’s “beautiful campus.” More than 2,000 African students applied for the Fulbright scholarship.

Fulbright chose Touré for being a “high achiever with demonstrated scholarship” during his studies at the University of Nouakchott in Africa.

“I want to teach English because I love it and it is a developing language in my country,” said Touré, who speaks five languages: English, French, Polar, Wolof and Hassanuya. “I am learning that with hard work anything is possible. This scholarship is helping me see a future full of hope for me, my family and my country.”

To be included in the Fulbright program, Touré first attended a six-month intensive English immersion program at the University of California, Berkeley campus.

Touré said NAU’s “supportive and friendly” atmosphere is helping him to feel at home. He is a member of the Flagstaff International Club and plans to earn a master’s degree in English from NAU.

“NAU stands poised and well positioned to welcome many more undergraduate Fulbright scholars,” said Charles, adding that NAU’s international student population represents 63 countries from around the world.

NAU’s Center for International Education has boosted its recruitment efforts by increasing its national and international recruitment fairs, visits to community colleges and by enhancing its web site. NAU’s international students have increased by more than 10 percent from 458 in 2007-08 to 506 in 2008-09.

For information about the Center for International Education, visit its web site.