Alumni Spotlight: Julianne Whittaker ’12, Fulbright Scholarship – Amman, Jordan
As I have walked around the streets of Amman, Jordan, I often catch myself thinking, how did I even get here? One year ago, I was applying to jobs left and right, praying Dr. Lane wouldn’t make us seniors take a final, and honing my Powder Puff football skills. Now I am teaching English to university students, practicing Arabic over falafel sandwiches with friends, and volunteering in refugee camps. This year has been the best possible post-graduate plan for me.
I had known about the Fulbright Scholarship since my freshman year. My advisor, Dr. Crawford, outlined the idea to me and it was reinforced by multiple IL events and Career Fairs thereafter. The Fulbright Scholarship funds Americans to either teach English or undertake a research project for a year in another country. The major goal is cultural exchange: young Americans work abroad, build friendships and a new life within their host community, and strengthen mutual understanding between the two nations. The program offers a beautiful mission and a year of adventure, which is probably why it has become very competitive over the years. Now, the Fulbright is considered one of the most prestige post-graduate scholarships.
…which leads me to the next thought I always have when I catch a breath from my routine in Amman: who do I think I am? who am I to live this life? There has actually not been a single minute of my Fulbright year when I have been bored. Of course, sometimes life is not perfect – living in a new culture can be tiring and challenging. Yet, I have not spent a single minute unfulfilled. Every day I am meeting new people, learning new things, memorizing new vocabulary, trying new food, exploring new communities, and charting my future path. Who did I think I was? Casually applying to a Fulbright, reaching out for this life?
I still don’t know the answer… but I’m sure it has a lot to do with Fairfield. A lot to do with the professors who listened to my ideas and constantly pushed me. Somebody has to fill those 10 English Teaching Assistant positions for Jordan… why not you?
I’m so grateful for that push, and it’s my best lesson learned from Fairfield. As you look down the road ahead — whether it’s a Fulbright, a scholarship, a job, a graduate program, or another adventure – that’s the important thing to remember. Someone gets to live that life… why not me?
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.”
- Henry David Thoreau