E.C.S.U. Student Quanece Williams Wins Fulbright Student Award!
To Serve in Czech Republic
Inqnews.com Staff Report)
Willimantic, CT — Quanece Williams ’16 of Bridgeport, CT, and a student at Eastern Connecticut State University, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to serve an English teaching assistantship in the Czech Republic. The grant, which is for the 2017-18 academic year, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Williams will be placed in an English language class as an assistant teacher in a secondary school in the Czech Republic. During her time there, she plans to partner with the European Environmental Agency to inform local residents about the environment and conduct cleanup projects. Williams also plans to utilize her dance training by hosting weekly modern and hip-hop classes.
Williams is one of more than 1,900 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research and provide expertise abroad for the 2017-18 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as a record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields.
“Having been selected as a Fulbright recipient, I will have the opportunity to promote my passion for education while immersing myself in the rich culture and history of the Czech Republic,” said Williams. “I am both humbled and excited to embark on this journey and would like to thank Eastern faculty for helping me with the process!”
Williams graduated summa cum laude from Eastern last May with a double major in political science and history. As a senior, she was one of two Eastern students to receive the prestigious Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award from the state university system.
Later, Williams she jumped at the opportunity to study abroad to Poland, Hungary and Austria with Cesar Beltran, assistant professor of communication. Studying abroad gave Williams insights into the European educational system, which she compared to that of the United States.
This led to her volunteering with Jumpstart, providing literacy instruction to preschoolers. She is currently in a graduate program taking elementary education courses while working at a charter school serving underprivileged students.
“Ms. Williams was a student leader and impressive scholar on our campus, and we are pleased that the Fulbright program saw those same talents in her,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Many of our faculty have been named Fulbright Scholars over the years, and we are proud that one of our students has also been recognized with this honor. I know Ms. Williams will make a special contribution to the students she works with in the Czech Republic, and it is my hope that her experiences will pave the way for continued participation in the Fulbright Program by Eastern students in the future.”
Williams’ time at Eastern was a progressive, transformative experience. Over the course of four years, the first-generation college student evolved from a shy introvert into an active scholar and community member, with the dream of one day becoming an attorney.
After growing up in a low income neighborhood in Queens, NY, and moving to Bridgeport to attend a Catholic school, Williams found herself in a bit of a slump as a new student at Eastern. “I had a tough time adjusting freshman year,” she recalls. Her roommate moved out, she kept mostly to herself and became uncharacteristically introverted.
Things started to turn around sophomore year, when she became a resident assistant (RA). “I not only became more involved on campus, but I also developed a voice for myself,” she said. This newfound voice empowered her to speak up in class, which led to her becoming a research assistant for History Professor Anna Kirchmann, who was writing a book about Polish immigration.
Among Williams’ other accomplishments were an internship at the Connecticut General Assembly, being president of the Pre-Law Society, working as a teacher’s assistant in the Political Science Department and completing an independent study about public and charter schools. Reflecting back on that tough first year, she said, “I’m happy I stuck it out all four years. I achieved more than I thought I would.”
Somewhere down the line, becoming an attorney with particular interest in immigration law, is just a matter. “I want to be a person who is able to represent someone whose rights have been infringed upon.”
Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants – chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential – with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research annually. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in more than 140 countries throughout the world. Lists of Fulbright recipients are available at: www.fulbrightonline.org/us.
The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the United States Congress to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. In the United States, the Institute of International Education administers and coordinates the activities relevant to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on behalf of the Department of State, including conducting an annual competition for the scholarships.