Hipps awarded Fulbright Grant to teach in Turkey

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

2013-05-21 13:47:15 - General

Emily Hipps '11

Emily Hipps, a 2011 Coe College graduate, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant. The Fulbright will provide funding for Hipps to teach in Turkey during the 2013-14 academic year.

Hipps graduated from Coe with majors in English, sociology and creative writing. She worked as a Writing Center consultant all four years at Coe. During her time on campus, she was also involved in Alpha Nu Literary Society, Alpha Sigma Alpha Sorority and Coe Human Rights Advocates. Hipps also wrote for literary magazines published by the college, including Coe Review, Colere and The Pearl. Off campus, she volunteered at Justice for Our Neighbors and the Catherine McAuley Center.

The Coe alumna was inspired to apply for a Fulbright by English Professor Ann Struthers, who discussed her own experiences teaching in Syria on a Fulbright Fellowship during an Eastern literature and poetry class. Hipps had never heard of the Fulbright program, and Struthers, who acts as the Fulbright Program advisor at Coe, encouraged her to apply.

Following graduation, Hipps landed an AmeriCorps VISTA appointment at the International Institute of Minnesota, which is primarily a refugee resettlement organization with educational programming. At the institute, Hipps serves as the employment opportunities coordinator for the Nursing Assistant Training Program. In the program, she works exclusively with refugees and immigrants, a role that she has found to be immensely rewarding.

"The goal of my position is to get more of our graduates employed more quickly," said Hipps. "It has been an amazing two years. I absolutely love my job."

Hipps' AmeriCorps VISTA assignment ends in August, just in time for her to travel to Turkey and serve during the next school year. As she wanted to work in a university setting with young adults, Hipps is thrilled to have the Fulbright opportunity. With the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, she will likely be teaching undergraduate and graduate students, and perhaps even professors.

"It will be really interesting to spend some time in a secular Islamic nation, and it's a culture that's so impacted by the East and West and historical campaigns, and a nation that's striving to create an identity out of all of that. It's a really unique opportunity," said Hipps.

This isn't the first time Hipps has taught English in a foreign land. During a study abroad experience with Coe English Professor Bob Drexler and German Professor John Chaimov, Hipps studied human rights in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. During the semester, she gained teaching experience and developed a passion to help refugees.

"The first time I taught English was at a Burmese school for refugees in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and that's where I got interested in the refugee experience," said Hipps.

Along with Struthers, Drexler and Chaimov, Hipps also credits other English professors including Gina Hausknecht and Gordan Mennenga, as well as sociology professors Lisa Barnett and Al Fisher, for their support. Her decision to attend Coe was solidified by Coe Rhetoric Professor Bob Marrs, who invited her as an incoming first-year student to become involved in the Writing Center. Later, Hipps participated in a memorable May Term Route 66 traveling and writing trip, led by Marrs.

"Everyone at Coe has been supportive of me finding my voice as a student and as a person," said Hipps.

While she is eager for her year in Turkey, Hipps' long-term aspirations will likely lead her to work that is similar to what she is currently doing in Minnesota.

"I really enjoy my job at the International Institute of Minnesota and I would love to continue working at empowering refugees in some way," said Hipps. "Whether that’s resettlement or job-training programs, or doing development work, I like all of it. Right now, I work one-on-one with students, but I've also been working on fundraising campaigns and managing websites and social media. If I can find a job that has that same sort of variety, I would be very happy."

Hipps now resides in the Twin Cities. Originally from Leawood, Kansas, she is the daughter of Jim and Kathy Hipps.

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.