Elizabeth Ackley ’11 enjoyed her role as a volunteer tutor at the Kenney Community Center so much that she wanted to get a formal taste of teaching before heading off to medical school.
As the latest Union student to be awarded a prestigious Fulbright grant, Ackley will get her wish when she travels to the Dominican Republic in September. Ackley will spend the academic year as an English teaching assistant at the university level. In her spare time, she plans to develop a painting and crafting program for youth to promote creative self-expression.
“I’ve been very active in the educational programs here at Union, and this was just a great way to continue that type of work,” said Ackley, a double major in biology and Spanish.
At the Kenney Center, Ackley was coordinator of the America Reads program, which provides mentoring, reading and rebuilding skills for young people from Schenectady, and the SAIL (Studying Arithmetic in Literature) program, which tutors local third and fourth graders to help improve their math skills.
She also worked in the Biology Department’s research lab and as a tutor in the Writing Center.
During her junior year, she spent a term abroad in Seville, Spain. Students who apply for a Fulbright get to specify a country where they would like to teach English. Ackley, of Southborough, Mass., chose the Dominican Republic in part so she can become fluent in Spanish.
While she’s eager to travel, she’s particularly fond of her time at Union, and specifically, Schenectady.
“I love the fact that Union is in Schenectady,” said Ackley. “I enjoyed reaching out to the community and getting involved with the people. It’s been a great experience for me.”
Ackley learned about the Fulbright program from Maggie Tongue, director of Postgraduate Fellowships.
“Liz is a great example of a student who took advantage of the opportunities that Union offered to work on projects that she loves, and as a result was well prepared to apply for a prestigious award,” said Tongue. “If you are willing to work hard and make a difference in your organizations, it can really open doors for you.
When Ackley returns from the Dominican Republic next spring, she plans to begin her medical training. She would like to specialize in pediatric medicine.
“I enjoyed helping young people while I was at Union,” she said. “It’s really helped me in choosing a career.”
An information session for those interested in applying to Fulbright programs will be held 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 19 in Room 201 of the Stanley R. Becker Career Center.
The Fulbright Program is run by the U.S. Department of State. It was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The country’s largest international exchange fellowship program, it provides approximately 1,500 study grants and English teaching assistantships each year. More than 8,000 applicants competed for these awards in 2010.