TCNJ senior Carolina Chica has received a Fulbright Fellowship to be an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in India next year.
The communication studies and women’s and gender studies double major is not foreign to foreign travel; two years ago, she studied abroad in Egypt.
According to Chica ― who is also in the Equal Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program and the College’s Women in Learning and Leadership program, two organizations she calls “crucial” to her undergraduate experience ― when she first learned she had won the scholarship, she cried “tears of joy.”
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be able to call myself a Fulbright scholar… I read the e-mail from Fulbright several times before realizing that I had received the ETA to India,” she said in an email. “Coming from a single parent home where money was always a problem, I never imagined that I would get to see the world. So now that I’ve had these experiences, I can’t get enough of traveling. Not only traveling, but going places no one really thinks about.”
According to Chica, she learned of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship from the Institute of International Education—the same institute that two years ago awarded her with a competitive $5,000 Benjamin Gilman International Scholarship to spend the spring of her sophomore year studying abroad at the American University of Cairo.
Chica, who is also a recent inductee of the nation’s oldest academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa, added that she chose to teach in India, because along with Middle Eastern culture, Indian culture has always “fascinated” her.
For this reason, while she is teaching in India she said that she also plans to “fully integrate” into the Indian culture in addition to increasing her knowledge of the country.
“I think that the best experiences in life come when you step outside your comfort zone,” said Chica. “…I think my interest in travel comes from being curious about the world. I’ve come to realize how much I love learning… I think in the globalized world that we live in, we need to pay attention to the places less traveled.”
This interest in cultural exchange is exactly what the Fulbright Program is all about, according to its website.
Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. According to its website, the scholarship—which sends qualifying Americans to one of 155 countries for one year to engage in lecture and/or study in any of a wide range of academic disciplines—was designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”
Following her year abroad, Chica said that she hopes to go to graduate school to earn her Master’s in International Relations from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
Chica is the third TCNJ student to receive this prestigious opportunity in the past three years. According to Nancy Freudenthal, assistant provost in the Office of Academic Affairs and the College’s representative for the Fulbright Program and other national competitive scholarships and fellowships, in total, seven TCNJ graduates have received a scholarship through the Fulbright Program. TCNJ also has had students who have received major fellowships/awards including the Marshall, Soros, Truman, Goldwater, Udal, Boren and Gilman.
”Whenever a TCNJ student wins a major national award, I am always delighted for the student,” she said in an email. “…I’m also proud of the College because it shows that we can prepare students as well as just about any undergraduate institution in the country.”