Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Jill Oberhart, who will receive a BA in music and psychology from the University of Iowa this May, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Brazil for 2019-20

Jill Oberhart

Hometown: Bettendorf, Iowa
Award: 2019-20 
Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Brazil
Degree: BA music and psychology

Could you give me a brief synopsis of what you'll be doing with your Fulbright

I will be an English Teaching Assistant at the university level in Brazil. My students will be in the Teacher's College at the respective university, so they will be studying Teaching English as a Second Language. I will also be engaging with the surrounding community by forming a children's choir and researching gender norms and expectations in Brazilian culture. 

What drew you to this field of study?

I am a life-long student of music, so it was very important for me to continue studying music in college. I also chose to study psychology because of my interest in how things work within the brain, specifically language and the benefits of bilingualism. I applied to be an ETA with Fulbright because of my interest in language, and I have met many native speakers who have helped me improve my second and third languages, and would like to do the same for learners of English.

How do you envision this will influence your life/future career?

I am not exactly sure what my life and future career will look like after Fulbright, but this program will help me build global connections and further establish my cross-cultural knowledge. I would love to continue working on a global scale, whether that is with immigrants here in the U.S. or working in another country. 

What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright?

My advice for students who are interested in applying for a Fulbright is to believe in yourself and get comfortable with telling people your accomplishments. I am a shy person, and I struggled with my confidence throughout the application process. If you take a look at your life, any achievement you have – big or small – can help make you stand out from other applicants. So many things here at UI inspired me to pursue a Fulbright. I was initially inspired by the Portuguese program here at Iowa. It is a small program, but the professors are so willing to help you learn their language and culture, and they are so encouraging. I would never have thought about applying for a Fulbright without the Portuguese program. During my application process, I participated in a concert tour in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland with the University of Iowa Bands during Spring Break of 2018. Then during the summer of 2018, I studied abroad in Spain with the Iowa Hispanic Institute while simultaneously preparing my Fulbright application for the priority deadline. All of my international experiences to date with the University of Iowa International Programs have solidified my dreams of being a global citizen and pursuing a Fulbright.

Are there individuals (professors, mentors, etc.) you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?  

First and foremost, I would like to thank Cris Lira, professor of Portuguese, for nominating me to apply for the Fulbright and conducting my language evaluation. I would also like to thank my recommenders, Martha Pierce, assistant director of the Women's Resource and Action Center; Benjamin Coelho, professor of bassoon and interim director of the School of Music, and Maria José Barbosa, professor of Portuguese. I would also like to thank my parents for encouraging me in everything I do and believing in me more often than I believe in myself. Finally, I must thank Dr. Karen Wachsmuth of International Programs for all of her support and dedication to the Fulbright Program and applicants, as well as the other staff and faculty who support and work with Fulbright applicants year after year. 

Explore the many funding opportunities open to UI students and alumni

Students are encouraged to begin their funding searches and applications at least six months to one year in advance.  Schedule an advising appointment with Karen Wachsmuth to discuss your interest in an international fellowship or begin an application (as a UI undergraduate student, graduate student, or alumna/us).