University of Iowa

In the news: UI Fulbright scholar to use rap to teach English in Mexico City

July 10th, 2019
student standing on Pentacrest

Fullbright scholar Erik Ovrom poses for a portrait outside the Old Capitol building on Thursday, July 4, 2019. Ovrom will be teaching English in Mexico City. (Emily Wangen/The Daily Iowan)

By Andy Mitchell, The Daily Iowan

From skateboarding and hip-hop to teaching English in Mexico, University of Iowa student Erik Ovrom’s unique story has led to his becoming one of this year’s Fulbright scholars.

Before heading to the UI, Ovrom hurtled through the competitive-skateboarding scene in California. An injury forced him to choose a different path. Even though he hung up his helmet and knee pads, he still keeps his skateboard at home.

Ovrom, now 28, has just completed a B.A. in interdepartmental studies in the health-science track and a minor in Spanish, and he hopes to attend medical school. He will travel to Mexico City to teach English with his grant. For Ovrom, expectations are best tossed out the window.

Chasing dreams of skateboarding and making hip-hop music in California sounds like the perfect setup for taking the path not beaten when looking at the Iowa City native’s family tree. His mother was the medical director of the Iowa City Free Medical Clinic, his father is a physician, his twin brother was a Fulbright scholar and Ph.D. student, his older brother is a practicing lawyer, and his sister is a social worker.

“I was definitely the most different in my family,” Ovrom said. “To see me experiment and find my story as an individual and see that it led [to medicine] I think made them happy and taught them a little something.”

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