Spotlight on Success: Sean McKay '13 Awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Sean McKay is graduating from Fordham College at Rose Hill, but he will be celebrating in Rio de Janeiro, where he is studying Portuguese on a Boren Scholarship.

And McKay has even more reason to celebrate: This year he won a Fulbright, which he expects will have him returning to Brazil to teach English. He’ll also be required to design a community engagement project, and has proposed starting a creative writing workshop where students will offer constructive criticism and share Brazilian and American media for inspiration.

“The idea comes directly from the creative workshop classes taken at Fordham as part of my creative writing minor,” said McKay.
Upon completing the Boren, McKay should be well prepared for his Fulbright teaching position; this past year he has been studying Brazil’s language and literature.

“I had learned Spanish and there was linguistic crossover with Portuguese, but I had never heard of, or engaged with, plays, short stories, and fiction of Brazil,” he said. He has also noticed similarities in Brazilian and American identities, which he would not have been aware of had he not immersed himself in Brazil’s “vibrant and rich culture.”

“At its core, the Fulbright means growing your sense of empathy to build deeper relationships with communities that Americans don’t often directly engage with,” he said.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs.  A candidate will submit a 
Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S.

During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.  The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding.

Congratulations to Sean on this prestigious achievement!

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