Anderson University student Jordan Koontz was recently accepted into the world-renowned Fulbright Program. Koontz is a senior, majoring in Spanish and business/information systems and minoring in English and TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages). He will be completing his Fulbright fellowship in Argentina.
The Fulbright Program is the international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for graduating college seniors, graduate students, young professionals, and artists to study, conduct research, or teach English abroad. According to the program, only about 1,700 Fulbright awards are given to students each year. [Photo: Senior Jordan Koontz (right), who will be studying in Argentina through the Fulbright Program, has studied in the country once before.]
“I knew that it was prestigious and allowed one to study or research abroad. However, I felt that it was a scholarship beyond my grasp,” said Koontz. Some of Koontz’s professors saw his potential and convinced him to apply for the scholarship despite his uncertainty.
Dr. Brandan Grayson, assistant professor of Spanish, noticed Knootz’s interest in immigration reform and his avid volunteering. “I saw that Jordan was a good candidate for the scholarship,” said Grayson. “I coached him through the scholarship and the application process.”
Many previous winners of the Fulbright Scholarship have gone on to receive Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes. Koontz sees this as an opportunity to help others and grow in his ability to teach social justice. “Any academic success I’ve had I believe is more the product of passion and curiosity than intelligence,” said Koontz.
Through the scholarship, he can pursue his passion for serving people in need. Having studied for a semester in Argentina, Koontz felt a need to reach out to the community there. The Fulbright award will make this dream come true. Immigration is very common in Argentina, and Koontz will be working with immigrants from Paraguay, Bolivia, and other countries. “Through the Fulbright, I will be teaching English and researching the Argentine immigration system,” said Koontz. “With the experience I’ve gained serving the Latino immigrant community, I hope to start a free ESL program for undocumented immigrants in Argentina.”
Engaging in community outreach programs will be an important part of Koontz’s service abroad. His study abroad experience in Argentina created a whole new perspective for him. “I fell in love with the spirit, the vastness, and the diversity of Latin America,” said Koontz. “More importantly, the recurrent stories of people throughout Latin America struggling and fighting for dignity, equality, and justice resonated well with me.”
As a student, Koontz has spent much of his time volunteering on campus and in the Anderson community. Through volunteering, Koontz has had opportunities to learn about immigration, which he can then use to educate others. “Both the Spanish department and the Center for Public Service place great emphasis on community engagement. Through the Spanish department, I’ve been able to volunteer as a translator and tutor in the community,” Koontz said. “CPS helped provide funding so I could attend several conferences regarding Latino studies and immigration reform—with particular regard to the legal aspect.”
One of Koontz’s professors, Dr. Timothy Fox, co-chair of the Department of Modern Foreign Languages, can see why his student was presented the award. “I truly believe that Jordan was offered this scholarship because of his academic record, his study abroad experiences, his competencies in technology, and his incredible record of community service,” said Fox. “Jordan is a highly motivated student.”
Koontz looks up to many AU faculty members who have encouraged him. “I owe everything to my professors. They have helped me to grow as a person and blossom as a student,” Koontz said. “Through their classes, I was challenged politically, philosophically, and spiritually.”
As the end of the year nears, Koontz is looking forward to returning to Argentina and experiencing new service opportunities, such as teaching English for higher education. “Teaching at a higher level is also a really exciting, yet intimidating, part of the experience that I am looking forward to,” said Koontz.
Koontz hopes the award will motivate him to pursue higher levels of social justice training. “I believe that this scholarship will provide me with further insights into Latin America, improve my Spanish, and develop my research abilities, ultimately helping me to one day effectively serve and help immigrant communities that are in need,” said Koontz. “In the future, I’m still considering law school with respect to immigration reform.”
Anderson University students interested in applying for the Fulbright Program should contact Dr. Joel Shrock, AU's Fulbright adviser, at email@example.com.
— Amanda Sills is a junior from Seattle, Wash., majoring in communication arts. Sills is an associate with Fifth Street Communications®, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of about 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.