By Kathleen Davidson
Recently, Villanova Senior, Mary Kulhowvick, received exciting news about a prestigious academic honor and scholarship opportunity, a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship award in Indonesia.
Mary received extremely valuable support, guidance, and advice from the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) at Villanova. CURF professional staff can help all students navigate the intricate application and interviewing processes for nationally and internationally competitive grants and awards. In particular, she collaborated with Hanna Lee, CURF's associate director, and Jerusha Conner, Ph.D., assistant professor of education and human services.
This is a very selective process; in fact, last year 160 people applied for the English Teaching Assistantship in Indonesia, and 35 people were awarded the grant.
Mary, originally from Vermont, is a senior, double major in English and Secondary Education. Currently, she is in the middle of student teaching at Germantown High School in Philadelphia. When asked about this experience Mary said:
I have always known since I was little that I wanted to be a teacher and this experience has taught me that I definitely picked the right career. The fact that I jump out of bed every morning at 5 excited to go to school and see my students speaks for itself!
Mary candidly describes how she felt upon receiving the news that she had been awarded the scholarship:
I was stunned! Totally shocked when I received the news—I wasn't expecting to hear until much later in the spring. It took me a minute to prepare myself before I opened the envelope because I had put it in the back of my min. I didn’t want to torture myself during the months of waiting. When I pulled the papers out I saw a form right before I saw "Congratulations"...I started crying. I wasn't prepared for that moment; I didn't expect to get it even though I put my heart into the application. I immediately called my parents and emailed all of my professors who helped me get to this point. I couldn't have done it without any of them.
The process for applying and then waiting to hear back about such a monumental and potentially life-changing verdict can be daunting to say the least. In thinking about other students going through a similar experience, Mary suggests: to do some serious soul searching and think about how much they want it to make sure that they are willing to put all of their energy into the application. There is no face to face interview for this process, so it is really stressful to have to portray who you are on two pages. I would definitely say to be ready to write multiple drafts for the personal and program statements! Also...give it your best shot so in the months of waiting you don't have any regrets about what did or did not make it onto the application. She also notes the benefit of seeking out professors and advisers to help with the process.
Mary is clearly an accomplished, hard-working, and motivated woman. Yet, in her humility and grace she points out the support of others along her journey.
She acknowledges that professors and family have had the biggest impact on [her] academic success so far. Noting, they have made me a more curious student, one who is eager to ask questions and find answers, they have inspired me, they have supported me, and they have pushed me to do my best. I wouldn't be who I am today without them.
At this time, Mary has decided to accept the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship award in Indonesia! However, regardless of her choice, to accept the Fulbright or to undertake another professional endeavor, her acceptance alone speaks volumes about her as a student, teacher, and person.
The Fulbright scholarship is no small feat, awarded to someone who ultimately...wants to make a difference which is how Mary describes who she is. The Department of Education and Human Services and the wider Villanova community could not be more proud.
Congratulations Mary! We wish you the best of luck in whatever path you pursue.