Leeann Oelrich awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
(319) 399-8605 or rpritcha@coe.edu

2017-05-09 15:32:45 - General

Leeann Oelrich
 Leeann Oelrich

Coe College alumna Leeann Oelrich has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant. The Fulbright award will allow Oelrich to teach in South Korea during the 2017-18 academic year.

In all, six graduating Coe seniors and Oelrich received prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards this spring.  The seven recipients represent a new record number of Coe students and recent alumni who have been awarded Fulbrights in a given year. 

Oelrich graduated cum laude in 2016 double majoring in English and Spanish. While at Coe, she worked as a Writing Center Consultant, and was a member of V-Day, a group that works to end violence against women. Off campus, she volunteered at the Justice for Our Neighbors Immigration Legal Clinic, and at the Catherine McAuley Center as an English language tutor for immigrants and refugees. Since graduation, Oelrich has worked full-time at the Catherine McAuley Center with the organization’s Adult Basic Education Program.

“I applied for a Fulbright because I think that language learning presents a unique opportunity for cross-cultural understanding. At the Catherine McAuley Center, I’ve witnessed the ways that language learning can serve as a vehicle to build community and friendship between people of completely different backgrounds,” said Oelrich. “I’m excited to put this kind of work in an international context through the Fulbright program.”

While in South Korea, Oelrich will be teaching English at an elementary or secondary school, as well as learning Korean herself. After South Korea, she plans to return to the U.S. to continue working in immigrant and refugee resources, and potentially apply to law school.

Oelrich selected South Korea because she is interested in experiencing their intense educational system firsthand. She also hopes to participate in a Fulbright program that teaches English to North Korean defectors.

“Working with refugees here in the U.S. has made me passionate about extending the opportunities education provides to displaced people,” said Oelrich. “Through working with Fulbright’s North Korean Defectors English Education Program, I hope to gain some perspective on how other nations handle the challenges of providing under-served populations with the education and dignity they deserve.”

Oelrich believes the Coe experience helped equip her for serving in the Fulbright program and for her future. She received guidance on her application from Coe Professor Ann Struthers, and Coe Professor Amber Shaw, who serves as the college’s national fellowship advisor, as well as other faculty.

“The faculty at Coe gave me the confidence and skills to realize that big opportunities like Fulbright were within my reach,” said Oelrich. “My professors helped guide my ambitions—and  helped me grow in order to make those goals a real possibility.”

A graduate of Mount Vernon High School in Mount Vernon, Iowa, Leeann is the daughter of Lisa and Buck Oelrich.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.  More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and early-career professionals in over 100 fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research annually in over 140 countries around the world.

Coe has established itself as a leading national producer of Fulbright scholars, with 20 in the past five years, and 28 awardees in the past decade.  This builds upon the tradition of Coe students, alumni and faculty who have received Fulbrights since the program was established.

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.