Kelci de Haas awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2015-06-09 10:41:55 - General

Coe College alumna Kelci de Haas has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant. The Fulbright award will allow de Haas to teach in Turkey during the 2015-16 academic year.

de Haas graduated cum laude from Coe in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in communication studies with minors in theatre and creative writing. While at Coe, she worked as a Writing Center consultant as well as a writing fellow, and she was the head of workshops and presentations for two years. de Haas was also involved in main stage productions in the Coe Theatre Department. Off campus, she volunteered at the Catherine McAuley Center, assisting immigrants in the Cedar Rapids area who are learning English.

"I applied for a Fulbright because I have always had a passion for travel and a strong desire to experience other cultures," said de Haas. "For me, living in a culture is vastly different from seeing it as a tourist. The Fulbright program fosters mutual respect among people of different cultures, and I'm honored to be a part of it."

de Haas selected Turkey because she is fascinated by the blend of cultures present in the country. She received guidance on her application from Coe Professor Ann Struthers, who serves as the college's Fulbright Program advisor.

"I'm fascinated by the blend of cultures present in Turkey as well as the natural beauty," said de Haas. "I read travel blogs of people who had trekked and hiked mountains in Turkey and was drawn in."

While in Turkey, de Haas will be teaching English at a developing university, as well as learning Turkish herself. After Turkey, she plans to teach in Thailand for a year, and would welcome the opportunity to return to South America to teach in the future.

"Teaching is something that I would like to be more active in. After working in the Writing Center for four years, I decided to become TEFL certified and was granted certification in September 2014," said de Haas. "My goal after graduation is to teach abroad for several years, and this is the first step."

For the first four months of 2015, de Haas volunteered in Peru, living in Cusco. She taught English to adults at night, at an organization called Q'osko Maki.

"My favorite part of teaching so far has been the people I work with. I met amazing people in Cusco and learned so much from my students. It's been a privilege to work with them," said de Haas. "My teaching experience has been challenging, enlightening, and more rewarding than anything I've done before. My students continually push me to be a better teacher and I have learned about myself in addition to my teaching."

de Haas says the teaching experience in Peru will prove useful when she serves in Turkey during the next school year.

"I look forward to continuing this style of education in Turkey and continuing to learn and grow from the people I meet in my travels," said de Haas. "Immersing myself in foreign cultures and languages requires constant adaptation and flexibility, and I am looking forward to assisting where I can."

de Haas believes her Coe experience provided valuable preparation for her Fulbright experience and her future.

"Coe prepared me for this opportunity by offering me countless ways to grow. From being able to present research with the Writing Center at international conferences to working closely with professors, Coe's size and commitment to its students has been very beneficial for me," said de Haas. "My close relationships with professors helped me excel as a student and provided me with references who know who I am and how I work. This has helped me procure an internship while at Coe and I have no doubt it helped in the Fulbright process."

A native of Longmont, Colorado, Kelci is the daughter of Steven and Kelly de Haas.

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.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe's vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.