Since 1946, the Fulbright Award has been granted to exemplary students worldwide who demonstrate strong academic and leaderships skills. This year, the award was given to one of Bradley’s very own.
Senior Sojourner White, a psychology and Spanish double major, will participate in the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program after she graduates in May.
From September through June, she will be teaching English to high school-aged students in Madrid, Spain. The program requires candidates to work for 16 hours a week and attend two hour-long meetings each week.
The application process to apply for the award involved various rounds, during which the applicants were reviewed.
“[The application process] is definitely unique and tedious — I think [those] are the best words to describe it,” White said.
The application required her to write two one-page statements similar to a cover letter. The first page was a personal statement, in which White had to demonstrate who she is.
White said she really wanted to participate in the ETA Program after studying abroad in Granada, Spain, during the spring of her junior year. However, she did much more than studying while she was abroad. White took the time to volunteer and aid the community.
“I wanted to add a little more purpose to my study abroad experience, and I love to volunteer,” White said. “I just wanted to do that while I was in Spain … I decided to work with adults with special needs.”
White said she had always wanted to study abroad, and she was able to immerse herself in the culture when she finally did travel to Spain.
“I have always wanted to go out of the country, ever since I was in high school,” White said. “The timing [to study abroad] was never right in high school. When I got to college and found out that through Bradley-affiliated programs you could go study abroad for a semester, that was it.”
However, she never expected to be able to apply and eventually receive this award because she wasn’t an education major.
Just like her time in Granada, White said she expects to go above and beyond in her free time while in Madrid.
According to Timothy Conley, a Bradley English professor and chair of the campus Fulbright Advisory Committee, White’s strong background in volunteer work, especially while she was abroad, assisted her in being able to receive this award.
“Sojourner had exceptional credentials,” Conley said. “She had a history, even before Bradley, of being involved in community work and in teaching or learning situations. During her study abroad in Spain, she made the most of it, and so she had evidence that she could be engaged with the community and with the teaching assistantship.”
Among the things listed on her résumé, White was a Resident Advisor in University Hall for two years, she is a Student Admissions Representative, she served as a special events coordinator for Activities Council of Bradley University, she was a peer mentor and president for the multicultural peer mentoring program and she is a study abroad intern.
Conley said this involvement and even her experience before Bradley helped make her a standout candidate.
Conley said he expects that this experience will be life changing and enhancing for White as it will provide her with unique cultural opportunities.
“She will be better informed about global education [and] international events,” Conley said. “She will be in a particularly good position in an election year to hear about viewpoints on American politics and culture from another perspective, from a European perspective.”
As for White, she said it will help her to embrace her independence.
“Living in a different country, you can sink or swim if you succumb to homesickness or the culture shock,” White said. “It definitely challenges you to be independent.”