Burns awarded prestigious Fulbright Grant

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

2012-05-24 13:20:44 - General

Ellen Burns, a 2012 Coe College graduate, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant.  The Fulbright will provide funding for Burns to teach in Turkey during the 2012-13 academic year.

Burns graduated from Coe on May 6 with a double major in English and creative writing. She worked as a Writing Center consultant all four years at Coe.  Throughout her time at Coe, she was also involved in Student Activities Committee, Gay/Straight Alliance, Multicultural Fusion, Chemistry Club, track and field, Coe College Concert Choir, and Coe College Orchestra. Additionally, she worked on Colere and Coe Review, two literary magazines published by the college.

During the summer of 2010, Burns traveled to South Korea, where she took courses at Sookmyung University in Seoul. In addition to taking basic Korean language, Burns took an art class that centered on the mark-making processes, including roll-printing, punching and soldering to create contemporary jewelry that exhibits human contact and the passing of time. While taking classes at Sookmyung, Burns roomed with a Korean student and a Chinese student. “Neither spoke very much English,” Burns said. “Therefore, I helped them improve their English while they worked with me on my Korean. All of us benefited from the living situation. They informed me of the ‘no shoes inside’ rule and patiently showed me how to work the shower, explaining that the entire bathroom is the shower.”

The daughter of Richard and Marcia Burns, Ellen was born in Austin, Texas, but grew up in Jonesboro, Ark.  “Having been raised by a cultural anthropologist and an ELL (English Language Learner) teacher has increased my sensitivity to and appreciation of cultural diversity. While learning about the lifestyles of others, you inevitably learn more about your own, becoming more self-aware. When traveling abroad, one must be reintroduced to social norms and acceptable and expected behavior.”

After taking Middle Eastern Literature from English Professor Ann Struthers, Burns’ interest in Turkey intensified. “I find Turkey’s rich history, diverse culture, and dynamic atmosphere enthralling,” Burns said. “With both European and Asian influences, Turkey’s intricate history fascinates me. Through reading novels and essays in which Turkey is depicted, I have been exposed to various aspects of Turkish culture; this literature paints a vivid picture of Turkey’s captivating landscape and alluring bodies of water, such as the dazzling, yet ominous Bosporus strait.”

After interning for Original Media and assisting filmmakers such as Amy Greenfield and Brett Botula in New York City during the spring and summer of 2011, Burns began considering the pursuit of a career in the independent film industry. While watching a handful of award-winning Turkish films, such as “Bal” (“Honey”) and “Pazar” (“The Market: A Tale of Trade”), Burns said she fell in love with the luscious vegetation that coats the mountains running through Turkey's enchanting countryside. “Turkish cinema has flourished over the years, being recognized at film festivals around the world,” Burns commented.

Although she aspires to have adventures in Turkey one day, Burns is uncertain whether or not she will accept the Fulbright grant. She has been offered a scholarship from New York University Tisch School of the Arts Asia in Singapore, where she would be pursuing an MFA in Film Production. Tisch Asia enrolls 36 students each year from over 32 countries. Unfortunately, due to the competitiveness of the institution, Tisch does not allow admission deferments.

During the application process, Burns received guidance from several Coe faculty members, including English Professor and Fulbright Program advisor Ann Struthers, English Professor Gordon Mennenga, Rhetoric Professor Bob Marrs, History Professor David Nordmann, and Psychology Professor Nükhet Yarbrough.

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.