Three Centre seniors have won Fulbright Fellowships to spend next year abroad.
Ibrahim Jadoon ’13 will be in Malaysia as an English language teaching assistant. Kaitlyn Lee ’13 looks forward to adding a Slavic language to her varied language repertoire during a year in Bulgaria as an English language T.A. Caroline Schoeffler ’13 will be in Austria, combining a research project in musicology with serving as an English language T.A.
A biochemistry and molecular biology (BMB) major from Richmond, Ky., Jadoon says he was attracted to Malaysia by its “incredible diversity,” both the biological diversity and also the religious diversity for a Muslim-majority country. Most Muslim-majority countries are something like 90 percent Muslim, he explains. Malaysia is more like 60 percent, with a large Buddhist minority population and smaller populations of Hindu, Christian, and other religious groups. He is eager to see “how the government interprets Islam and how they make it more inclusive,” he says.
Originally from Pakistan, Jadoon finds it interesting that his first language, Urdu, shares the odd word with Bahasa Melayu, the national language of Malaysia. However, he appreciates that his Fulbright orientation will include basic language study.
Like many BMB majors, he had long planned on a medical career. But for him the Fulbright is no mere gap year. The chance to teach is what initially attracted him to the program.
“My passion in life is public health,” he says, which means, he adds, “education.” His dream degree is an M.D./M.Ph., a combination medical degree and master’s in public health.
Health-related internships in South Africa and Ecuador after his first and second years at Centre convinced him of the importance of approaching medical issues not just through treatment of an individual’s immediate problem, but through public health’s emphasis on prevention.
“As a medical doctor, you treat at most 30 or 40 patients a day,” he says. “But then I thought, how I can have a bigger impact? It’s through educating people about health.”
Among many pursuits at Centre, Jadoon cites his four years mentoring a local schoolboy and his work with the campus social justice organization CentrePeace as having been particularly influential. From his mentee and now friend, he learned that he could effect real change in at least one person’s life. And while he acknowledges that the United States suffers from a challenging wealth of public health problems, he believes, in part because of his work with CentrePeace, that he will find his calling on the international stage.
“There are lot of injustices in the world,” he says. “I think I can do a lot more if I go abroad.”
Lee will be in the port city of Vidin, on the Danube across from Romania, where she will teach English in a high school and study Bulgarian.
“Bulgaria is beautiful,” she says. “And I’m really into hiking and camping.”
For the side project Fulbright requires of language assistants, she plans to take her students “hiking while talking about nature and recycling,” she says, a tribute to the popular Art of Walking class taught by Stodghill Professor of French and German Ken Keffer.
But it’s really all about learning Bulgarian for Lee. She loves languages—their differences, their similarities, their evolution, everything. Even before she turned in her Fulbright application, she had begun to study the Bulgarian alphabet.
“I want to learn as much of the language as I can and as much about Slavic language,” she says.
A classical studies major, Lee started Latin in high school and picked up French at Centre, heading for a semester in Strasbourg after only a year of French. She has also studied American Sign Language.
When Centre added a linguistics minor, in the spring of 2012, she leapt right into it.
“Proto-Indo-European language is the language that all European languages come from,” she explains. “It’s really old and really cool. We have no evidence of it, but we’ve reconstructed it by looking at Sanskrit and Latin and German and Slavic languages and working backwards. One of my goals for this Fulbright is to get the experience with Slavic languages so that I can better work with Indo-European and proto-Indo-European languages.”
She recently completed a John C. Young honors thesis on Kentucky dialects, contrasting the “Northern” dialect of Evansville, Ind., with the “Southern” dialect just across the Ohio River of her Owensboro hometown in Western Kentucky.
“I applied for a Fulbright because it will completely change my life,” she says. “I’m super excited, and I’m also super scared. But I’ll work through it while I’m there. Through Centre I’ve learned that there are a lot of things that are going to put me outside of my comfort zone, but those are the things that are worth doing, because that’s how you’re going to grow and change.”
After her Fulbright year, she will continue to study linguistics at the University of Kentucky.
As for the more distant future?
“I want to be a student forever,” she says.
Schoeffler, of Centerville, Ohio, will study Vienna’s influence on Eduard Hanslick, a prominent but understudied 19th-century musicologist and critic. Although he taught at the University of Vienna, he was not Viennese.
She “can’t wait” to use the university library, she says, excitedly. “And the Fulbright will make it possible for me to talk to people I wouldn’t otherwise be able to.”
An additional benefit: “There’s a chance I might be able to make connections with the Vienna Philharmonic,” she says, noting that Vince DiMartino, Matton Professor Emeritus of Music, has friends in that esteemed orchestra.
As part of her Fulbright assignment, she will also teach English at an inner-city, vocational high school.
Schoeffler says that she originally couldn’t decide whether she wanted to do a research project or teach English in a German-speaking country. Austria is the only Fulbright country that allowed both.
Her choice of majors was easy. “Music and German are the two things I have to be doing because they’re integral to everything I do as a person,” she says.
Schoeffler first took up German language in middle school, in part because of German heritage. But she can’t separate language from music. “Why are there such strong musical traditions in Germanic areas?” she asks. She hopes to further explore the question through graduate work in musicology at Yale.
Her instruments are piano and voice, tied together by jazz.
“You can study all these jazz instruments—jazz piano, jazz bass, jazz sax—but you can’t really study jazz voice,” she says. “There are very few schools that teach it. I want jazz voice as an instrument and as an art form to be taken seriously.”
Much of her time outside of class is devoted to an assortment of jazz and vocal groups. Recently she’s added the Danville Community Jazz Band, made up mostly of area high school students who didn’t otherwise have much opportunity to participate in a jazz band.
“It has been really fun to watch,” she says.
No matter where her career might take her, be it academia or performance, she will always be an advocate for music education, she notes. But first, there’s the Fulbright.
“I have been to Vienna, and it’s fantastic and gorgeous and I’m pretty excited to go back,” she says. “The Fulbright for me is just the perfect marriage of music and German.”
By Diane Johnson, senior associate director of Communications