Steele awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2012-04-26 14:08:55 - General

Coe College senior Elizabeth Steele has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant.  The Fulbright will provide funding for Steele to teach in Serbia during the 2012-13 academic year.

Steele will graduate on May 6 with a major in political science and a minor in economics.  While at Coe, she has served as a Writing Center Consultant.  On campus, she is a member of Political Science Club, Multicultural Fusion and the V-Day Committee.  Steele volunteers off-campus at the Community Health Free Clinic and as an English language tutor at the Catherine McAuley Center. Currently, she is working for a strategic communications firm in Washington, D.C. as part of a semester-long internship program.

After her sophomore year, Steele traveled to Serbia for a May Term class taught by Coe Theatre Professor Dennis Barnett on theater and social change, which sparked her interest in the Balkan region.

“Serbia is complex in many ways,” said Steele. “There is an intensely traumatic interpretation of history, but a palpable warmth of the Serbian people. Serbia cannot be understood in a month or described in a sentence, but it got into me in such a way that I hoped I would return one day.”

In Serbia, Steele was able to spend time with a current Fulbright grantee and her good friend, Katie Blanchard, who graduated from Coe in 2010.

“Katie is truly an incredible and accomplished young woman, and I admire her boldness and sense of adventure. She planted the idea of a Fulbright grant in my mind and helped me through the application process,” said Steele. “In my conversations with Katie she emphasized the value of both living and teaching abroad, something that interested me immensely.”

As a teaching assistant, Steele will be aiding English teachers in teaching about American culture and the English language.

“The Fulbright Teaching Assistantship program in Serbia is relatively new, and I hope to help the faculty in novel ways to teach language and facilitate cultural exchange,” said Steele. “This program is about forming personal connections, and while I plan to focus on listening and observing, I will be proud to share my experiences growing up in the Midwest. I hope it will show that there is more to America than D.C. and New York.”

After spending a year in Serbia, Steele plans to be open to whatever opportunities might manifest themselves. Eventually she would like to pursue graduate studies in international development, specifically as it relates to women’s health. Her long-term career plans are to work in policy research and eventually teach.

During the application process, Steele received guidance from several Coe faculty members, including Barnett, English Professor and Fulbright Program advisor Ann Struthers, Political Science Professor Lynda Barrow, Psychology Professor Thomas Moye and Political Science Professor Bruce Nesmith.

A native of Shoreview, Minn., Liz is the daughter of Brian Steele and Susan Resh Steele.

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.