Rebecca Lara, who will receive a BA in English and creative writing from the University of Iowa in 2023, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Spain for 2023-24.
Hometown: West Liberty, Iowa
Degree: BA, English and creative writing; Spanish minor; certificate in nonprofit leadership and philanthropy
Could you give us a brief synopsis of what you'll be doing with your Fulbright?
I will serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in the Canary Islands, Spain, from September 2023 to June 2024. I will assist teaching staff in early childhood and elementary schools in English language classes and other subjects. Outside of teaching, I will host a weekly creative writing workshop and film club for secondary school students. I am also looking forward to volunteering at a local nonprofit that assists refugees.
How do you envision this will influence your life/future career?
After the Fulbright Program, I plan to pursue a career as an advocacy coordinator or community organizer at a nonprofit whose mission is to protect and advance the power of immigrant and refugee communities. The linguistic and cultural experiences I will obtain as an ETA in Spain will prepare me to build strong relationships with people from diverse backgrounds and successfully create meaningful community engagement.
What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright?
I would recommend reaching out to the Fulbright mentor team at the University of Iowa. The application process can be overwhelming, but having a great team that constantly checks in on your progress is very helpful. Overall, do not doubt yourself, and go for it!
Were there experiences at the UI that inspired you to pursue a Fulbright?
My experiences with Spanish courses at the University of Iowa inspired me to further explore Spanish culture and literature. In addition, the education courses I have taken solidified my passion for teaching and building meaningful bonds with students. During my first year at Iowa, I received a Gilman Award to study abroad in Valladolid, Spain. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 I was unable to participate in the program, but receiving the award encouraged me to fulfill my goal of visiting the country in another meaningful way.
Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?
I would like to thank Karen Wachsmuth and Ari Natarina for guiding me throughout the application process. I also want to thank Steph Yazell, Will Coghill-Behrends, and Lily Smith for writing me letters of recommendation and for their words of encouragement. Lastly, I would like to thank Erica Jennings, who inspired me to teach English in Spain.
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.