Hamline News

Stein and Knorr Awarded Fulbright Scholarships

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It was just a regular Monday when Emily Stein received the email announcing that she had been awarded the Fulbright Scholarship, but she had to suppress her excitement a little while longer since she was in the middle of a student teaching session at that moment. Likewise, for Maggie Knorr it was a simple Wednesday afternoon spent working on her senior seminar presentation, when one email changed everything.

“My phone lit up, and I saw that I had received an email from Fulbright. ‘Oh my God, this is it,’ I thought. I had been waiting for this email since mid-January when I found out I was a semi-finalist,” Knorr said. “I was so excited I was texting everyone, calling my family, and in general just trying to keep from running through campus screaming for joy.”

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program emphasizes academic and professional excellence and facilitates cultural exchanges designed to increase mutual understanding between people in the United States and other countries. Moreover, the program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. Stein, a double major in education and Spanish with a K-12 English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching license, was accepted into Fulbright as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA).

“I first heard about this [Fulbright] while I was participating in Hamline’s summer collaborative research program three years ago. After that day, I set my mind on applying and never looked back,” Stein said. “Although there are many programs for teaching English abroad, I was drawn to the Fulbright’s emphasis on cultural exchange and mutual understanding, along with its high level of support and interconnectedness.”

Knorr, an economics and philosophy double major who also earned a Teaching English as a Second Language Certificate (TEFL) at Hamline, had been thinking about applying to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Program ever since she saw an article in her hometown newspaper about someone who was a Fulbright ETA in Germany for a year. She came to Hamline knowing she wanted to pursue a Fulbright, even before she decided on her majors.

“What drew me to the Fulbright was a passion for education, as well as an interest in representing my country and learning more about another culture. I wanted more experience and to really immerse myself into a new culture and language,” Knorr said. “You learn so much about the other country, but you also learn so much about yourself and your own country by being away from it.”

Stein and Knorr first met in in their first-year seminar, but will now represent Hamline in two different countries. Stein will work as an English teacher in a Taiwanese elementary or middle school and participate in extracurricular activities in order to better integrate herself into the school community. Aside from the beautiful island and good food, she says she applied to Taiwan specifically for the language.

“Mandarin Chinese seemed like a big challenge and I decided I wanted that challenge. From what I have learned so far, the language seems fascinating.”

Knorr’s English Language Teaching Assistant Program for Malaysia is a jointly funded program between the U.S. Department of State and the Malaysian government. Knorr will assist secondary school teachers with classroom instruction and extracurricular activities pertaining to English language programs.

“I actually did not decide where I wanted to go until last summer, and it was a very difficult decision. It was important to me to go somewhere I had never been before, and somewhere I had never thought about going,” Knorr said. “I am most excited to meet new people. I love learning from other people’s views of the world and their experiences. I am nervous about the differing values and political mindsets that I may experience, but I am ready for my own values to be challenged.”

Even though Stein feels that she is academically prepared and excited for this experience, she says there is some anxiety that comes with earning the Fulbright.

“I applied specifically for Taiwan for the chance to learn Chinese. While the thought of being in a country in which I don’t speak the language or even a related language terrifies me, that continues to be one of the biggest excitements,” Stein said. “I am also excited to serve as an ambassador of my country while simultaneously learning about another culture. Also, after so many years of taking classes, reading textbooks, and studying theory, I am looking forward to putting all of that hard work into action and doing what I have been training to do.”

Over the last 22 years, 25 Hamline students have earned the prestigious Fulbright scholarships to teach English and/or do research in places like Austria, Germany, Korea, Australia, Morocco, Norway, Canada, and Estonia. Kari Richtsmeier, director of the International and Off Campus Programs Office and Fulbright Program administrator for Hamline, says Stein and Knorr are well prepared to represent Hamline as the newest members of this select group of scholars.

“Both Emily and Maggie possess the intellectual and interpersonal qualities to do very well in their placements,” Richtsmeier said. “Studying away teaches one how to problem-solve, builds confidence and communication skills and starts one on a path of lifelong learning. It is not only a great addition to a resume, but it fosters intellectual curiosity. Both women are very good communicators and have already begun preparing themselves for what I hope will be one of the best experiences of their lives.”