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Kuster awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or rpritcha@coe.edu

2012-04-24 14:54:15 - General

Coe College alumna Christine Kuster has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant. The Fulbright award will allow Kuster to teach in Germany during the 2012-13 academic year.

Kuster graduated cum laude from Coe in 2011 with majors in English and creative writing, and a minor in art.  While at Coe, she was involved in Off-Stage Players and Spectacle Improv, and became interested in community theatre.  She also studied abroad in England during a May Term, and spent the spring semester of her senior year in New York City, where she interned at Writers House Literary Agency.  During her last year at Coe, she also wrote a novel entitled “The Dead Man’s Daughter,” which is currently being reviewed by several agents.

Growing up in the Midwest, Kuster believes there is pressure to stay close to home and find contentment in one’s homeland.  She has grown to admire those who take risks and are willing to travel and explore, which led her to apply for the Fulbright.

“I’ve been interested in traveling abroad for many years, and the Fulbright scholarship was the perfect choice,” said Kuster.  “It allows for structure while encouraging exploration; it fosters personal growth and communal sharing; and it opens up possibilities in a way other programs don’t.”

In Germany, Kuster will be working as an assistant teacher and conversation leader.

“First and foremost, I aim to share my language and culture with Germany’s students, while learning about theirs in return, thus forming strong relationships with my students and peers,” said Kuster.  “I hope to use my creative writing background as a benefit to my students.  Storytelling is a primary tool of learning I hope to utilize whenever possible.”

Outside of the classroom, Kuster hopes to become active in Germany’s literary scene.  As Germany is home to one of the largest book fairs in the world. it presents Kuster with the opportunity to connect with the publishers, agents and authors who buy and sell rights to forthcoming literary works.

“It would be a joy and honor to attend this most exclusive of expositions,” said Kuster.  “I also hope to connect with some of Germany’s contemporary writers, professors and historians who are well versed in Germany’s historic literature.  In my community, I hope to start a writer’s workshop, or other artistic group.”

While Kuster’s first priority is to immerse herself in the German language and improve her fluency, she also is enthused to learn more about the country’s culture.

“When I look at Germany, I see a culture with roots reaching back as far as the aural tradition.  I see a place whose rich history is matched only by its current events, a place at the forefront of science, technology and – most interesting to me – literature,” said Kuster.  “Dedicating a year abroad is the biggest thing I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to see what comes of it.”

Before receiving news of the Fulbright award, Kuster had accepted an offer to study in the creative writing program at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland.  She now plans to enroll in the fall of 2013, and her current career goal is to work as a teacher or professor and write young adult literature.

Kuster says several Coe professors have really shaped her education, but particularly English professors Charles Aukema and Gina Hausknecht.

“Professor Aukema helped me expand my abilities as a writer and a student in more ways than I can count,” said Kuster.  “Gina Hausknecht inspired me to step outside of my comfort zone and explore facets of literature that I’d previously overlooked.  This has carried into other areas of my life, including my decision to pursue the Fulbright.”

A native of Muscatine, Iowa, Christine is the daughter of T. Elissa and J. Blake Kuster.

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.