Shaw awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2011-08-09 15:10:14 - General

Coe College alumna Jenna Shaw has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Program grant.  The Fulbright will allow Shaw to live and work in southwestern Turkey during the 2011-2012 academic year.  The grant funds will pay for travel, living and research expenses.

Shaw, a native of Minneapolis, graduated magna cum laude in 2009 with a major in English and a minor in classical studies.  Her academic honors included membership in Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi.  While at Coe, she served as co-editor of the Coe Review literary magazine and as a Writing Center consultant, and was involved with the Wilderness Field Station and as an intern at Brucemore.

During her time at Coe, Shaw took advantage of multiple off-campus opportunities, including a State Department sponsored summer in Turkey, semesters in Greece and New York City, and May Terms in Vietnam, England and Ireland.  “I knew going into undergrad that traveling abroad was a priority, and Coe made it easy for me to make the most of the many opportunities for off-campus study,” said Shaw.

Her undergraduate experience in Turkey spurred her to focus her English honors project on Turkish literature, culminating in a thesis paper centered around Orhan Pamuk’s controversial novel, “Snow.”

After graduation, Shaw moved to New York, where she has spent the past two years working in children’s publishing, first at a publisher, then a literary agency, Writers House.

In Turkey, Shaw will be teaching English to students at Muğla University, and plans to pursue a part-time apprenticeship with a local farmer through the Ekolojik TaTuTa (Tarım Turizmi ve Takası) project.  She also hopes to visit local yayla farms, as she did during her 2007 summer studying at Georgetown University’s McGhee Center in Alanya, Turkey.  While in New York, Shaw has volunteered with the GrowNYC Greenmarket and Just Food CSA programs, and is excited to learn more about how family and organic farming functions in Mediterranean Turkey.

“Turkey is continually described as a crossroads between East and West, but though its dual nature, both cultural and geographic, welcomes easy metaphors, Turkey is far from simple,” noted Shaw.  “While living in Turkey in 2007 I was immersed in language, culture, history and politics.  I traveled throughout the region, made friends with Turkish students, and enjoyed cultural exchanges that were both light-hearted and serious, and that revealed much more about the country than I could ever have learned from a book.  I left Turkey brimming with excitement and fascination.”

Shaw believes that she has an entirely different perspective on Turkey than many other people, due in large measure to the time she has already spent in the country.

“I was surprised to find, both in later studies in Greece and after my return to the U.S., that the vibrant, friendly, complicated country I had become so captivated by was viewed by many people as frightening and unstable,” said Shaw.

Through her outlook on the year ahead, Shaw is embracing the central theme of the Fulbright program.

“This year, I hope to contribute my skills as a teacher and native English speaker while engaging in dialogue and forming strong relationships with students, colleagues and the community that I can bring back with me to the U.S.,” concluded Shaw.

During the application process, Shaw received guidance from English Professor Ann Struthers, who serves as the Fulbright adviser for the college.  Other Coe faculty members providing support were English Professor Bob Drexler, Rhetoric Professor Bob Marrs, and Classics Professor Ed Burke.

Established in 1946 and sponsored by the United States Department of State, the Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between Americans and the peoples of other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills. The Fulbright Program is the largest international exchange program, providing funding for students, scholars and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research and teaching. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program sends approximately 1,500 students per year to more than 140 countries.