Simpson Grad Receives Fulbright Award

Jeanie Mullen, 2013 Simpson graduate, is patient. After months of completing applications, researching foreign countries and interviewing, she had to wait several more months before she was finally informed that she had been chosen to receive a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Mullen hadn’t really pictured herself heading to Nepal to teach English as a second language when she came to Simpson but she knew she wanted to inspire others like she was inspired by her teachers.

“I knew from the experience I had with my teachers growing up that I wanted to be a teacher as well,” Mullen explained. “So that’s what I came to Simpson to study – education and mathematics. I wanted to impart the same excitement for learning that my teachers gave me when I was growing up.”

Her Simpson Experience provided her with access to key people and experiences that led her life in that direction.

“The professors and classes at Simpson, as well as my student teaching experience and mentor teachers, confirmed my passion for teaching and learning,” she said. “These professors challenged me to think critically and in new and different ways. They also constantly provided experiences and suggestions of opportunities of interest to me that would deepen my experience while at Simpson.”

Mullen also had the opportunity to study abroad in China and Hong Kong while at Simpson, an experience that really opened her eyes to different cultures.

“Prior to that trip, I had thought very little about studying abroad. But I discovered that being out of my element challenged the once-set views I had of the world and, in a sense, challenged me to learn about and explore the world further.”

Which is exactly what she will be doing when she embarks on her adventure which begins with a five-day, pre-departure orientation in Washington D.C. with others going to South and Central Asia. In July, she will depart for Nepal where she will spend the first month in-country learning the language and getting accustomed to the culture.

“For the remaining months,” Mullen explains, “I will live with a host family and teach English as a second language to native Nepali students for seven months before returning to the states in March of 2014.

Even though she has never been to Nepal, she has had experience working with students from Nepal through practicums and working with the Upward Bound program.

It’s the culmination of all these experiences that led to Mullen’s Simpson Success Story.

“Definitely the professors at Simpson and the support from my parents were the driving forces that helped me succeed,” she said. “I also credit the research and subsequent presentations that I did through the mathematics department, my May Term classes which allowed me to explore other areas not in my major, and numerous professors passionate about their content and teaching.”

The Fulbright award is funded through the United States Department of State, with the support of the United States Educational Foundation – Nepal (USEF-Nepal). The process is very competitive which accounts for the extensive and lengthy application process. This year, 56 people applied to go to Nepal and Mullen received one of only six teaching assistantships.