Hamline News

Senior Jenna Potter Receives Prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, Libby Otto Named as Alternate


There have been 26 Fulbright Scholars from Hamline University in the past 20 years, and now senior Jenna Potter can add her name to the list of students who have expanded their global experiences through teaching English abroad. In addition, senior Libby Otto was named an alternate to the 2014-15 Fulbright Program and will find out later this summer if she’ll be teaching high school and university students in Norway.

“Earning a Fulbright is a mark of excellence, recognizing outstanding achievement in both academics and student leadership,” Hamline University President Linda N. Hanson said. “We are proud that Hamline students have been recognized by the program so many times. I am confident that both Jenna and Libby will be tremendous representatives of Hamline, and I wish them both great success in the years ahead.”  

Potter, a major in English and double minor in German and communication studies, applied for the scholarship with the goal of expanding her knowledge of the German language and enriching her international cultural experiences. She will teach English as a second language at a school in Hamburg, Germany but has to wait a while longer to find out which school and class she’ll be working in.

“I’ve always wanted to speak German in the home country, in the mother country, and become fluent that way,” Potter said. “I’ve always loved German, loved languages in general, and the academic and cultural experiences that knowing a language can give you.”

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is part of the United States Department of State Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, which provides approximately 800 teaching and research grants every year to faculty and professionals in a wide range of academic and professional fields. Currently, the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is offering grants for study in over 125 countries. Potter worked closely with her previous advisor and German professor Russ Christensen, who retired last year, to guide her through the process.

“He was the biggest influence on me doing this. He kept telling me that I would be able to do it, so he was really key in keeping my confidence up and giving me the tools I needed for an effective application.”

This isn’t the first time Potter has been recognized for her hard work and dedication. Last year, she was honored with a Ridgway Fellowship which is given to a student who reflects Hamline’s core values, exhibits academic achievement, undeniable potential, and who is a positive reflection of the university. While she has focused on her commitments and hard work stateside during the last four years, Potter has always wanted to study abroad. She pursued that goal with intense focus, especially when it came to becoming fluent in German and other achievements that would best prepare her to apply for, and receive, the Fulbright.

“I knew I would be able to focus on the experience of living abroad a little bit better if I wasn’t just there for just half a year and still thinking about what I have to do back at Hamline,” Potter said. “Living and working abroad after I graduate will give me the opportunity to look at the big picture and think about what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.”

While Potter hasn’t studied abroad yet, she has had the opportunity to attend an international communications conference with her advisor Suda Ishida, associate professor of communication studies and program director of Hamline’s Certificate in International Journalism program. Potter believes that the experience may have been what helped set her apart when applying for the Fulbright Scholarship. The opportunity, she said, could have only come from a place like Hamline where the student population is small and the university is so invested in each individual student.

“I think it’s important to say that this opportunity definitely came from the environment that Hamline creates and the opportunities that I’ve been given with small class sizes and the really close relationships with professors,” Potter said. “I’ve received so much love and support from the entire community. I really thank Hamline for that and the community that Hamline has built, because I think that’s what made it possible more than anything.”