Three WVU alums awarded Fulbright Scholarships

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Three West Virginia University alums have been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and will be teaching English abroad in 2021.

According to a WVU press release, the three recipients are Riley Imlay, John Kolar and Caroline Toler who will be going to Canary Islands, Spain, Poznań, Poland and Málaga, Spain, respectively. Cate Johnson, the Fulbright program advisor at WVU, said they will be placed in a variety of education settings, teaching ages ranging from preschool to adult learning. Their work, Johnson said, will include full-time English teaching, being teacher’s support, tutoring, leading extracurricular activities, work outside of the classroom as well; including volunteering with local nonprofits or other ways of engaging in their communities.

The way their work benefits their host communities is primarily through English instruction, but also cultural sharing. One of the goals of the Fulbright program is this cultural exchange, so these students come and they share American culture with their community and in turn, they bring what they learn about their host cultures back to the US when they return.

Cate Johnson – Fulbright Program Advisor

Johnson said there were actually five alums who won this year, but two of them decided to opt-out to pursue other opportunities mainly because of the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, which changed the start date. Instead of starting in the fall, the programs will begin in Jan. 2021 and run for 6-8 months depending on the country.

Regardless, Johnson said, WVU is proud of the three alums and although their start date has been delayed the university is sure that they will make a “huge impact” in their host communities. She added that they will still come back to the U.S. with new skills and knowledge to share.

Including this year, Johnson said, WVU has had 68 Fulbright Scholars since 1951. Of the 68, 42 have been since 2011. She said this was indicative that WVU has made a true resurgence in the program in the last decade.

“We’re super excited for Riley, John and Caroline and as always, our WVU students are making us proud,” Johnson said.

Johnson works for WVU’s ASPIRE Office, which supports students who want to compete for nationally competitive awards like the Fulbright Scholarship. Students who are interested in applying can email aspire@mail.wvu.edu to set up an appointment.

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