Graduating Senior Receives Fulbright Scholarship to Teach English in Spain

GENESEO, N.Y. - Hannah Birdsall aspired to be a Fulbright scholar when she was attending Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg, N.Y. The graduating SUNY Geneseo senior has now fulfilled that desire by receiving a prestigious Fulbright English teaching assistantship to teach secondary English in Madrid, Spain starting next fall.

"I am thrilled and surprised," said Birdsall. "It is an enormous honor to receive this award. I knew applying was a shot in the dark, but I felt I had to give it a try and I am so glad that I did."

About 1,500 U.S. students receive Fulbrights each year, awarded only to students who have completed their undergraduate work. Birdsall is the first Geneseo student to receive a Fulbright in more than a decade. She will be graduating May 15 from Geneseo with a bachelor's degree in childhood education, special education and Spanish. She has been accepted to the master's program in deaf education at the Rochester Institute of Technology and will start that program when she returns from Spain next summer. At Geneseo, Birdsall has been on either the president's or dean's list every semester.

"The Fulbright will help me complete my understanding of the history of Latin America," said Birdsall. "I was in a Geneseo study abroad program in Costa Rica and became very interested in the history and political structure of Latin America. I feel I need to gain a better understanding of the history of Spain, since Spain so greatly impacted the countries in Latin America."

Birdsall says the experience also will provide valuable first-hand experience in a second language acquisition. She plans to use her knowledge of teaching second languages to support her studies in deaf education and to investigate the possibility of teaching Spanish to deaf students.

"The Fulbright is a door-opening opportunity and I am excited to use this to help me impact the education of my future students," she said. "I am also thankful that my parents, friends and professors supported me throughout the process."

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international exchange program, designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries. The U.S. Congress established the program in 1946 under legislation proposed by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright from Arkansas.

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