Marquette University has three student winners of prestigious Fulbright Awards

June 20, 2018

Students will be placed in Belgium, Bulgaria and Columbia

MILWAUKEE — Three Marquette University students were selected for 2018-19 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Awards and will spend several months working overseas through the prestigious program.

The students selected were Aidan Flanagan, Health Sciences '18; Kathryn Higgins, Health Sciences '18; and Brett Yardley, Graduate School. Flanagan and Higgins will be placed in classrooms abroad to help local English teachers and serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States. Yardley has been awarded the study/research grant, and will be doing his work independently.

"Although academics are critical in being chosen for a Fulbright, the program's ultimate mission is cultural understanding," said Dr. John Pustejovsky, associate professor of German and Marquette's Fulbright adviser. "These three have the honesty, intelligence, and openness that makes them the best kind of ambassadors for the United States."

Higgins, of Arlington Heights, Ill., will leave for for Bogota, Colombia in July, where she'll work as an English teaching assistant at Areandina University. Higgins's interest in Colombia was kindled by her first Spanish teacher at Marquette, former adjunct instructor and Colombian native Consuelo Carrillo. Service work also helped nurture her love of Colombia and Latin American culture. As a volunteer English tutor for adults in Milwaukee, Higgins met and befriended a woman from Manizales, Colombia.

Higgins will teach 20 hours per week alongside a university professor for the 2018-19 academic year. As part of her curriculum, she plans to incorporate Skype sessions connecting her Colombian students with Marquette students learning Spanish.

Flanagan, of Aurora, Ill., knew he wanted to be a Fulbright scholar since he was 12 years old. His family introduced him to the program as a child, so when Flanagan found out he had been accepted to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program as an English teaching assistant, the first thing he did was call his parents.

In August, Flanagan's Fulbright Award will take him to Gabrovo, Bulgaria. He will teach English and American culture at the Aprilov National School in exchange for the opportunity to learn about Bulgaria's health care system. It wasn't until the late 1980s that Bulgaria left the Soviet Union and because of that timing, communist influences remain in many Bulgarian systems, including health care. Bulgaria's unique history and the contrast in health care between it and the United States sparked Flanagan's interest in fellowship study there.

Yardley, of West Allis, Wis., who is now a graduate student in philosophy, will spend several months working in Belgium through the program.

Yardley has been called "the most easy-going philosopher ever." He had a successful business career before choosing to seek a doctorate in philosophy. In Belgium, he will focus on the authority of tradition in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. "Brett's preparation is unique — philosophy, religious studies, and languages — and his research is very relevant for modern societies," according to Pustejovsky.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program is the largest international exchange program in the United States. Created by Congress in 1946, it offers students, scholars and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching worldwide in over 140 countries.

Photos available upon request.