2008 graduate receives Fulbright to study human rights in Mexico
Ever since she studied abroad in Mexico as a Centre College student, Kerri Howard ’08 has been eager to return. Now, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship, she’s getting her chance.
Howard, who has spent the past two years serving as Centre’s coordinator of Community-Based Learning (CBL) through the VISTA Americorps Program, will soon begin a master’s program in human rights at La Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.
“I’ve been wanting to go back to Mexico since I took part in Centre-in-the-Yucatan there in the fall of 2006,” Howard says. “I grew so much as a person during that time—and my Spanish got so much better—that I can only imagine what spending the next two years there is going to do.”
Studying abroad, she adds, is the most significant way in which Centre prepared her for the challenges she will face. “I definitely learned how to operate outside of my element and just roll with the punches,” she says.
Howard is most looking forward to immersing herself once again in “the culture and environment of Mexico—being in a place so vivid and laid-back. I’m also looking forward to getting to speak Spanish all day, every day, although I’m terrified of taking graduate classes in Spanish. That first month is going to be tough.”
After graduating summa cum laude from Centre, Howard became the College’s first coordinator of Community-Based Learning, an initiative that encourages professors to integrate community service into their curriculum. During the first two years of the program, Howard served as the liaison between the Boyle County and Centre College communities.
“Because CBL has students using their education to do good in the community, what they’re learning takes on an importance beyond grades—it becomes valuable work that impacts other people,” she says.
For her work with CBL, Howard was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence at the end of the 2010-2011 school year. Created in 1999, the award recognizes exceptional leadership and accomplishment and is given only on occassion at the discretion of the Centre president.
Upon completing her master’s in Mexico City, Howard will return to the United States and begin a joint Ph.D. in sociology and a JD (law) program at Northwestern University in Chicago.