June 3, 2013

Horgan ’13 Receives Fulbright Fellowship to Latvia

Joseph Horgan '13 was recently named a Fulbright U.S. Student Grant recipient and will work as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Latvia during the 2013-2014 academic year.

ETAs place a Fulbrighter in a classroom abroad to provide assistance to teachers of English to non-native English-speakers. In this role, ETAs help teach the English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the United States. The age and academic level of classroom students varies by country.

Horgan was introduced to the Fulbright Program during his freshman year at Emmanuel, but was unsure of which of the many available programs or countries interested him most.

"I had never heard of the Fulbright Program before, but I knew it was something I wanted to pursue in some capacity," Horgan said. "I immediately started thinking about ways that I could build my résumé." 

During his time at Emmanuel, Horgan was able to gain plenty of teaching experience, as an instructional writing assistant for first-year students, a peer tutor in history and an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) tutor both at the College and with Catholic Charities.

In December of 2012, Horgan began working as a teaching assistant at Matignon High School in Cambridge, but found himself with a full-time job as a long-term substitute when the Matignon faculty member had to take a leave of absence.

While still taking courses at Emmanuel, Horgan developed curriculum for and taught two sections of Advanced Placement U.S. history and two sections of 20th-century U.S. history for seniors, and one section of 17th/18th-century U.S. history for juniors. Within these classes, he was responsible for 109 students, including 25 international students from South Korea, China and Vietnam.

Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies Laurie Johnston, who also serves as director of fellowships and scholarships, said that she and the other members of the Fellowships Committee are always on the lookout for talented students to support in applying for national awards such as the Fulbright, noting that Horgan had been on their radar for some time, due in part to his work on the student-run EC Radio.

"Joe and I discussed the possibility of a Fulbright for many months before he eventually decided to apply to go to Latvia, because of his interest in the history of the former Soviet Union," Johnston said. "He had considered a number of other countries, but decided that the ETA in Latvia was a good fit for him.

"The Fulbright is a very competitive award, and represents a great deal of hard work on Joe's part," she added. "It is a significant honor for Joe and also for the College.  This is the third year in a row that we have had a Fulbright winner, which is remarkable for a college of Emmanuel's size." 

In addition to assistance from the Fellowships Committee, which helped Horgan with the application process and wrote the institutional endorsement, he was given letters of recommendation from Associate Professor of Science Education Fiona McDonnell, Assistant Professor of English Lisa Falvey and Assistant Professor of Education Sr. Karen Hokanson, SND. As part of the Honors Program, he also benefitted from the support of its director, Associate Professor of Sociology Katrin Križ, and the other faculty in the program.

Due to the 2013 federal budget sequester, some Fulbright notifications were delayed, and Horgan was unaware during Emmanuel's Commencement exercises on May 11th if he'd been accepted to the program. The good news was worth the wait. Horgan is "totally nervous, but excited," and plans to spend the summer in preparation for his trip.

"I'm just going to learn as much of the Latvian language as I can," Horgan said. "It's a little more difficult than learning some other languages, though. There's no Rosetta Stone or anything."

Aside from teaching, Horgan plans to spend some time traveling while in Latvia, to Helsinki in particular, to explore his Finnish heritage.