Two students and two recent graduates from La Salle University have received Fulbright Scholarships to spend a year overseas.
The recipients are Kevin Smith, who graduated in 2012 with a degree in communication and will do literary research and teach English in Austria; Theresa Glinski, a senior political science and English major in the Honors Program who will teach English in Slovakia; Thomas Shattuck, a senior history and English major and Honors Program student who will teach English in Taiwan; and Michal Wilczewski, a 2009 graduate and Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois at Chicago who will conduct research in Poland for his dissertation.
Smith, Shattuck, and Glinski were paired with La Salle faculty sponsors to help guide them through the application process. Smith’s sponsor was Vincent Kling, Ph.D., a professor of German; Glinski’s sponsor was Marjorie Allen, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Integrative Studies; and Shattuck’s sponsor was June Jiang, Ph.D., an associate professor of marketing.
Since 1965, more than 60 students from La Salle have received Fulbright Scholarships.
“We’re always proud when one of our students or graduates receives a Fulbright Scholarship, but to have four in one year shows the academic strength of our students and the commitment made by faculty sponsors in assisting Kevin, Theresa, and Tom,” said Joseph Marbach, Ph.D., La Salle’s Provost. “And Michal told us that doing special projects with Dr. Kling and Dr. Allen while a student at La Salle was instrumental in his decision to pursue graduate school.”
Shattuck’s interest in teaching English in Asia began when he taught in China in the summer of 2012.
“I wanted to do something unique and something different from the typical internship,” said Shattuck, who is from Northeast Philadelphia. “When I was making the decision, I was taking Chinese with Dr. Jiang, and we talked a bit about teaching in China. I decided that it would be the best fit for the summer, so I went for it.”
During the internship, his supervisor told him that a teacher’s influence could be the difference between a student deciding to go to college or staying on the family farm. “That really hit home with me because it showed that I was actually helping to make a real difference in someone’s life,” Shattuck said.
Because the Fulbright program does not offer scholarships in mainland China, Shattuck applied to teach in Taiwan.
Jiang, who has taught Shattuck in two Chinese courses and supervised an independent study project he did during his trip to China, said, “Tom is a highly motivated individual and always capable of completing the most difficult task in an effective manner.”
Glinski, a resident of Philadelphia’s Roxborough section, has never been to Slovakia, but she said the country fascinates her because of its history. The nation’s “Velvet Divorce” with the Czech Republic in 1993 ended Communist rule, and Slovakia has since joined the European Union.
“The country has not escaped the effects of these interesting economic times, which is reflected in the high unemployment rate for young people. This is one of the major reasons I considered the Slovak Republic—to provide English language skills to students who can then contribute to the growth of the Slovak economy,” Glinski said.
Allen has taught Glinski in three courses, including one on the literature of the Holocaust.
In that class, Allen said Glinski, on her own, found and read an essay by Primo Levi, “The Grey Zone,” and for the class’s final project, wrote a paper about the author’s treatment of the ethical dilemmas facing Jewish victims as they struggled for survival and were sometimes forced into complicity with the Nazis. “What she wrote about in many ways illustrates one of the strengths of Theresa’s academic abilities: to recognize and understand complexity, to see things beyond the ‘black and white’ appearances, and to look at multiple perspectives,” Allen said.
Smith, of Dallastown, Pa., is a former Marine sergeant who served in Fallujah, Iraq, on two deployments. At La Salle, he was editor of the University’s student newspaper, The Collegian. Since graduation, he has taught as an adjunct in the University’s English Department.
“I visited Austria in 2009 and got the urge to go back,” said Smith, who speaks German. “For a time, I had this insatiable wanderlust, and, in a sense, it is still there for me. I guess it grew out of my experience in the military. On my trip to Vienna and Europe, I saw an area of the world that was unlike everything I thought I knew about. I realized I needed to start experiencing the world for myself.”
Kling, Smith’s sponsor and a recipient of Fulbright Scholarships as both a student and a faculty member, said, “Kevin was always completely prepared, and his focus and work ethic while preparing the application were of the finest.”
For an undergraduate communication class, Smith and two other students had made To Philadelphia, a documentary chronicling the lives of African-Americans who migrated from the South. Smith and Kling came up with the idea of making a video of three modern Austrian writers discussing their fiction and writing habits. Kling said that for Smith to comply with Fulbright application requirements, he would need to have the three authors agree to be interviewed before his proposal was approved. Smith contacted the three writers and they agreed to cooperate with the project, which is the basis for a documentary he is making.
Wilczewski’s dissertation is tentatively titled “State United, People Divided: Everyday Life and the Aftermath of Empire in the Polish Countryside, 1918–1931.” He will visit Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, and Bialystok to gather research materials.
Wilczewski earned a B.A. in sociology at La Salle and was named the top senior in that department.
“In terms of La Salle’s impact on my academic life, I think it’s safe to say that my choice to go into academia was very much influenced by my close relationship and work with Professors Kling and Allen,” Wilczewski said. “They nurtured in me a love and passion for learning, and challenged me to go beyond just gaining information in class to conducting rigorous research and writing serious scholarship.”
Kling supervised Wilczewski’s Honors Project on the Polish-Jewish poet Julian Tuwim, and Allen was his faculty sponsor for an independent study project he did on Jewish life and resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto.
The Fulbright Scholarship is one of several sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 150 countries.
Under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.