Studying abroad pushes Rush-Ward to follow her passion
North Central College student Kyra Rush-Ward ’19 has earned a Fulbright Scholarship that will allow her to become an English Teaching Assistant at an elementary school in Logroño, Spain beginning in September 2019. An elementary education and Spanish major, Rush-Ward is equally dedicated as a language student and a teacher in the classroom, just the type of student the Fulbright Program looks for.
Rush-Ward knew she wanted to be a teacher since the first grade, but didn’t decide to study Spanish until attending North Central and meeting Spanish-speakers locally and abroad.
“During my junior year, I studied abroad in Granada, Spain,” said Rush-Ward. “I was so eager and excited to be a part of the Spanish culture that a semester didn’t feel like enough time. When I returned home, I promised myself I would live abroad again.”
Hands-on experience helps lead to Fulbright Scholarship
Rush-Ward was already used to being on the other side of the desk when she arrived at North Central; she had already spent more than 500 hours volunteering in elementary classrooms and tutoring high school students. At North Central College’s Honors Day, Rush-Ward was recognized as the Outstanding Major in Spanish.
As a Dunham Scholar and recipient of financial aid through the Dunham Fund, Rush-Ward received unique opportunities to complete practicums in classrooms in Aurora, Ill. In the fall of her senior year, Rush-Ward student taught in a first grade bilingual classroom, where 80 percent of the instruction was in Spanish.
“Improving my Spanish became very important to me once I realized that language impacted equity in education,” said Rush-Ward. “There is a shortage of bilingual educators, especially in Illinois. I feel grateful there is a career that will allow me to combine my passion for education and Spanish in a meaningful way.”
The Fulbright application process is extensive, requiring applicants to submit a statement of grant purpose and a personal statement. “I wrote 17 drafts before finally submitting my application,” said Rush-Ward. “It definitely challenged me as a writer.”
Rush-Ward relied on friends and family to review her application, and was supported by Pearce Durst, assistant professor of English and coordinator of the prestigious fellowship program.
Fulbright Scholarships don’t just open doors, they build bridges
“In Spain, I’ll strengthen my Spanish, which will allow me to connect with and support Spanish-speaking students and families in public schools in the United States,” said Rush-Ward. “I’ll draw on my experiences in Spain to help my students ask questions, seek understanding and succeed in the classroom and as global citizens.”
The Fulbright program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program to build understanding across cultures. In the past, North Central College has been among the U.S. colleges and universities that produced the highest number of Fulbright students for exchanges.