Integrating her love for Spanish, science and education, Stevie Gildehaus ’13 is teaching English in Brazil next year as a Fulbright winner.
“It has been my dream for a long time to be a part of this program, and it is a huge honor to have the chance to live out that dream,” Gildehaus says. “I feel lucky to have the chance to be a part of a program whose core values resonate with me so strongly.”
Gildehaus — who majored in environmental science and Spanish — will spend 10 months in Brazil beginning in March. While in Brazil, she will work as an English teaching assistant at a university, where she will plan conversational activities, help in language labs and give presentations on the culture, politics and history of the United States.
“I feel I am fulfilling my duty as a global citizen and getting to share my culture while diving into a new one,” Gildehaus says. “I am excited to make a difference in the college experience of other students.”
Pursuing her Passions
At Willamette, Gildehaus made her mark both on and off campus.
She received the Academic Achievement Award in environmental and earth science in 2011 and 2012. During her senior year, she won the William B. Webber Scholarship, enabling her to develop and teach science curriculum to fifth-graders at Highland Elementary School in Salem.
Equally notable are Gildehaus’s work experiences, which include assisting in field research for the Zena Ecological Restoration Project, tutoring girls in English, math and science at an orphanage in Ecuador, and interning at the Smithsonian Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.
“My experience at Willamette undoubtedly prepared me for this next phase of my life,” says Gildehaus, a native of Spokane Valley, Wash. “I am fortunate that I had the opportunity to attend a university with such supportive professors and faculty. I could not have made this journey without their help.”
In Brazil, Gildehaus says she’s most looking forward to improving her teaching skills, boosting her cultural literacy and making a difference in the English-learning experience of college students. She also hopes to investigate environmental issues in a new setting.
When she returns home, Gildehaus plans to attend graduate school. She hopes to one day conduct environmental research that promotes cross-cultural sharing of global environmental issues.
“My future career goal is to make scientific research more available to individuals in Latin America by being an ambassador on the interface of culture and science,” she says.
“Through the Fulbright experience, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the Brazilian way of life and to develop skills that will promote the intercultural exchange of language, environmental awareness and the celebration of differences."
Other Fulbright Winners
Gildehaus was one of five Willamette students and recent graduates to earn Fulbright Grants in 2013. The other winners are:
For more information on Fulbright Grants and similar opportunities, contact the Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards.