Recent NMU Grad in Austria on Fulbright Scholarship

Jameson Higgins is the third NMU student in five years to be selected for a Fulbright English language teaching assistantship in Austria. He is pictured with Carol Strauss (Modern Languages and Literatures), who encouraged him to apply and wrote a letter of recommendation.

Higgins was notified of his acceptance shortly before graduating in May. He serves as a language and cultural classroom resource in three rural high schools in Styria, located in southeastern Austria.

Higgins said study abroad experiences in Vienna and Berlin as an NMU undergraduate sparked an appreciation of German-speaking cultures. Teaching English to Austrian students will also enable him to improve his own German conversational skills.

“Most of the students will have a basic understanding of English,” he wrote in an e-mail shortly before his departure. “I will help to supplement their studies with cultural insights, pronunciation and regular conversation. I have been blessed by this opportunity, but I know it wouldn’t have come to pass without the support of the teachers, students and community members who make up the NMU German program. There is a special bond that holds it all together—from career advisement in Frau Strauss’ office to fun laughs at our cozy Stammtisch [conversation table]. The program was always a kind of family for me unlike any other at NMU.”

The scholarship requires one academic year of duty with the possibility of a merit-based renewal for a second year. Higgins indicated he planned to stay on longer if given the chance. Strauss said the Fulbright program in Austria is extremely competitive because the education system carefully selects candidates who will uphold its rigorous standards.

“I think it’s a testament to the stellar performance of the NMU graduates who previously served in Austria that Jameson was selected," she added. "All were wonderful students to begin with, but it’s also a credit to the fact they’re acquiring impressive language skills here even though German is a minor and not a major program. The number of students doing the minor now stands at about 50. Based on student interest in both German and cross-cultural studies, we’ve submitted a proposal for a major in German studies.”

Since 1963, the Fulbright teaching assistantship program in Austria has provided college graduates with opportunities to work at secondary schools to enhance English language instruction and serve as a resource for lessons about American culture.


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Updated: October 15, 2009

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