Taylor Williams ’17 M.A., who earned her master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Valparaiso University during its Graduate School Commencement ceremony on May 20, will spend the 2017–2018 academic year in South Korea thanks to a prestigious Fulbright English teaching assistant grant.
“We are very pleased to see Taylor’s talent, hard work and dedication recognized by the Fulbright Program,” said Mark L. Biermann, Ph.D., provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “This honor is a confirmation of the exceptional education students receive at Valparaiso University, and I am confident she will represent us well in her future endeavors.”
Williams received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia with majors in media studies and women, gender and sexuality studies. She was first introduced to TESOL while substitute teaching for a year and joined Valparaiso University to pursue both her interest in the TESOL master’s program as well as the opportunity to be a graduate assistant softball coach.
“I’m excited for the chance to build relationships and be an international ambassador of sorts,” Williams said. “I’m a minority on a number of counts: race, gender, sexual orientation — there’s all these things about me that aren’t maybe how Americans are viewed in Korea. I want to represent all those aspects of who I am and use them to open cultural dialogues and to talk about these things in a very respectful and mature way. I also want to immerse myself in the Korean culture. There are so many similarities between cultures, and I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to discover those similarities.”
In addition to her academic and coaching responsibilities, Williams worked in the University’s writing center, helping international students sharpen academic writing skills, and spent time observing teacher-student interactions at the INTERLINK Language Center, which provides international students at Valpo with language training, cultural orientation and academic preparation.
During Williams’ practicum, she worked as an English teacher with groups of Study Abroad students from Namseoul University in South Korea, where she will teach as a Fulbright recipient.
“Taylor planned lessons with the team and co-taught classes,” said Karl Uhrig, Ph.D., assistant professor of English and director of the TESOL master’s program. “Her teaching teammates remarked that she was enthusiastic and eager to use the best possible practices and activities to create meaningful lesson plans. I have no doubt that her students in Korea will benefit immensely from her teaching, and her curiosity and insightfulness will communicate the best of our culture to them.”
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between United States citizens and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential. The Program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.