Muskingum College graduate student Stefanie Davis has been awarded a teaching assistantship from the Fulbright Commission of the Austrian Ministry of Education. The nearly year-long assignment will begin this fall.
Davis, a 2001 graduate of Denison University majoring in German, will earn her master of arts in teaching degree from Muskingum next week. She enrolled at Muskingum following what she describes as “a very happy experience” working for the Newark Public Library. She now works in Muskingum’s PLUS program as a learning consultant intern, in addition to her graduate studies.
Originally, she had applied for a Fulbright scholarship while attending Denison, and was named as an alternate. She then decided to apply for a teaching assistantship from the commission and was accepted.
The creation of the Fulbright program was sponsored by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas in 1946. The legislation, best known as the Fulbright Act, authorized the U.S. Secretary of State to use proceeds from the sale of surplus World War II property outside the United States to finance the exchange of students, teachers and professors between the United States and other nations.
The program currently manages exchanges between the United States and 140 countries, 50 of which have bi-national commissions. Since its inception, more than 250,000 students, teachers and scholars have participated in the program and approximately 4,500 grants are awarded annually.
Davis’s experience in Austria starts this September, when she will teach English as a second language at middle schools in two cities in the Austria’s Province of Salzburg: Sankt Johann, in Pongau, and Bischofshofen. Her journey actually begins this summer, when she will travel to Germany to visit with some relatives there and, perhaps surprisingly, brush up on her German.
"Studying the language and really speaking the day-to-day language are two different things,” Davis explained, “so, being there this summer will give me a chance to immerse myself in things a little more gradually.”
Even though earning this assistantship is a significant academic achievement, Davis is reluctant to take as much credit as might be expected. “So many people have helped me get where I am now, it really wouldn’t be fair to make it sound like I did this on my own.”
High on her list of supporters are her parents, Annelise and Richard Davis of Newark. “Without them,” Davis recalled, “I don’t think I would have accomplished any of the success I’m enjoying right now.”
Davis also points out that she received a great deal of support from both her undergraduate faculty at Denison and her current faculty at Muskingum. At Denison, she credits Kent Maynard, Cookie B. Sunkle and Michael E. Mickerson, all of the Honors Program at the university.
At Muskingum, Davis said, she received strong support from Professor of German Dr. Franz-Joseph Wehage and Professor of History Dr. Robert Burk. Dr. Burk is the Fulbright advisor at Muskingum, where he also is the Arthur and Eloise Cole Distinguished Professor of American History.
Davis is currently completing the last component of her master’s degree from Muskingum by student teaching at Dillon Elementary School in Zanesville, and she also credits her supervising teacher, Maureen Williams.
“All of these people, in different but very important ways, make a student like me better at what I do,” Davis said.
Following her Fulbright assignment, Davis looks forward to a career in teaching and, perhaps later in her career, another graduate degree in library science.
"A lot of people have given me a lot of options,” she concluded, “and I hope I can take full advantage of all I’ve been given.”
Davis will receive her master of arts in teaching degree from Muskingum at commencement exercises to be held May 3 on the campus.