For the first time in university history, two students received the Fulbright Scholar award.
The award, presented by the U.S. State Department of State, grants funding to graduates to teach English in other countries. Applicants must be accepted by the Fulbright office and the government of the country where they will work. Lindsie Lawson, senior Spanish and global studies major from The Colony, will teach English in Malaysia while Mackenzie Sanderson, senior political science and global studies major from El Paso, will teach English in Germany.
Jason Morris, director of the Office of Major Scholarships, said he hopes to have one student receive the award each year, but this is the first time two students have received the award.
“We have great momentum to have multiple winners every year,” Morris said. “ACU has the type of students that can win these awards.”
He said the university does well with Fulbright scholars compared to other schools in the Counsel of Christian Colleges and Universities.
“You do have students who pick ACU because we have a sense of mission,” Morris said, “and they tie in wanting to go teach English as a ‘Fulbrighter’ as that sense of mission.”
Lawson said she learned about the opportunity for the Fulbright at a dinner provided by the Office of Major Scholarships during her sophomore year. She said experiences like studying abroad in Uruguay, working with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and taking the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification class. Although she studied Spanish, she will be teaching in Malaysia to students who speak Malay or Mandarin.
“When you study other languages you learn so much about your own language,” Lawson said. “It makes you really empathetic with others as they’re learning.”
Lawson said the university also helped her spiritual formation, helping her know what she believes, though the national religion in Malaysia is Islam.
“You have to be careful in the way in which you share your faith,” Lawson said. “But you also know as followers of Christ we do want to share that. Balancing that is going to be an interesting challenge.”
Abbey Moses, a 2017 graduate, received the Fulbright award last year and also is teaching in Malaysia.
Sanderson said she became interested in the Fulbright award as a freshman and throughout college she took jobs and internships that would help her stand out as an applicant. She worked in the Center for International Education and taught English to international students through the university’s ESL program. She interned last summer at the German American Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C.
“There’s no GPA requirements with the Fulbright, but you want to be really competitive because so many people apply,” Sanderson said.
Sanderson learned German in high school because her family hosted several exchange students from Germany. She will teach English in the German state of Saxony Anhalt for 10 months.