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Jirik receives Fulbright award to teach in Colombia



Angela Jirik, Fulbright award
Angela Jirik


Angela Jirik doesn’t know exactly where’s she going yet and may not know until she touches down in Colombia in late July.
The South American country is definite but beyond that, the details are sketchy for one of ACU’s latest recipients of a Fulbright Scholar Award, given by the U.S. Department of State.
“The city has yet to be determined,” Angela said, as she prepared for her last weeks as an ACU student.
She will graduate May 11 and then have a couple of months to get ready to serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Colombia for 10 months. Angela is one of two ACU students who were named recipients of the Fulbright Scholar Award this year.
Mackenzie Dalton will be an English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia. This year’s award winners join a list of other ACU students and faculty honored with Fulbright scholarships and grants dating to the 1950s. ACU is included in the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2018-2019 Fulbright U.S. students. ACU is one of only three Texas institutions to receive the designation.
Just because Angela, whose hometown is Keller, will have a couple of months off after graduation doesn’t mean she will sit back and take it easy. After completing her stint as a Fulbright scholar, Angela wants to enroll in graduate school to study neurolinguistics, which examines the relationship between language and brain function. From there, Angela wants to do research in that area or teach English abroad or Spanish in the United States – or possibly a combination of those.
So, her “down time” between graduation and departure for Colombia most likely will be spent in an internship shadowing someone in the neurolinguistics field.
“I want to be a better candidate for graduate school,” she said.
With her credentials, Angela is likely to be sought out by numerous graduate programs. She spent the fall semester of 2017 in ACU’s study abroad program in Montevideo, Uruguay. And, she spent 10 weeks in the summer of 2018 in Bogota, teaching English at several schools through IVHQ, a volunteer travel company.
Angela doesn’t know yet where she will be assigned in Colombia this time around, but a return to Bogota through the Fulbright program wouldn’t be all that bad.
“I want to go there,” she said, “but I also want to see other places.”
Angela, who is fluent in Spanish, also doesn’t know yet what level of English proficiency her students will have and she doesn’t know their grade level except that they will be post-secondary. Whatever their proficiency or grade level, Angela will be well prepared, thanks to people like Dr. Jason Morris and Dr. Tracy Shilcutt, dean and associate dean, respectively, of the Honors College at ACU. She also credits Pam Sullivan, coordinator of ACU’s Institute of Intensive English, who taught classes Angela took in order gain Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certification.
Just two months after earning her degree, Angela will be off to the next phase of her life, totally fearless as she travels to a different continent.
“I’m just excited,” she said. “I think this is where I’m meant to be.”

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