Coe College senior awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Emma Lassen Fulbright winnerEmma Lassen ’23 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship for the 2023-24 academic year. A graduate of Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School, Lassen joins an elite group of nearly 30 Kohawks to receive Fulbrights in the past decade. 

As the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, the Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world. The Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program offers recent college graduates the opportunity to teach in primary and secondary schools across the globe.

Lassen, who is triple majoring in English, social and criminal justice and education, is headed to Spain, which is historically one of the most competitive Fulbright awards. Right now, she is keeping her career options open when her Fulbright assistantship concludes.

“My most important career goal is finding a profession that brings me a sense of genuine fulfillment, and so I know wherever my career takes me it will involve helping others in some way,” Lassen said.

Coe Fulbright applicants and recipients receive guidance from Associate Professor of English Amber Shaw, who serves as the college's national fellowship advisor. At the heart of the Fulbright application are two essays. Lassen and Shaw began discussing the application and essays last spring and met weekly during the fall term to review and revise drafts. At Coe, Shaw also facilitates an extra preparation step — a campus interview with faculty and staff who provide an additional layer of feedback and support on the application before the national deadline in October.

“Emma is a great Fulbright recipient because she is a dedicated student with multiple, varied academic interests. She's curious about the world and eager to immerse herself in another country and culture, all of which are central values for Fulbright,” Shaw said.

Lassen acknowledges many people who have assisted her, including Shaw, John William King Professor of Literature and Creative Writing Gina Hausknecht, Assistant Professor of Social and Criminal Justice Neal McNabb and friend and Student Body President Celestte Panduro-Orellana ’25. 

“One of the things that has made my college experience so great has been the people I've gotten to work with during my four years here at Coe. I've felt lucky to be surrounded by people at Coe who care about me and want to help me be successful, and to me I see that as part of the culture of the college,” Lassen said.

On campus, Lassen is a member of the women's tennis team and works as a writing center consultant as well as a supplemental instruction leader. She also volunteers with the Catherine McAuley Center as an English language tutor.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 390,000 participants the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Approximately 2,000 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in all fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research abroad each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in over 140 countries throughout the world.

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