Student, alumnus earn Fulbright scholarships

by University Communications,

Tejeswara Reddy ’12 and Elisa Ahern ’15 are both teaching English in Europe later this year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

The goal of the program is to foster mutual understanding among nations through education and cultural exchanges. Each year, more than 800 Fulbright award winners study and conduct research in more than 150 countries.

Reddy, a former high school math teacher and U.S. Department of Education Policy Fellow, will teach in Greece, while Ahern, a physics major and math and German minor, will teach in Germany. Their programs run from September through June.

“I am honored to represent my community and country in Greece and thrilled by the chance to explore the cradle of Western civilization,” Reddy says. “As a fellow through the Fulbright, I will be in a unique position to learn from the experiences of the people of Greece and experience life in Greece for myself.”

Equally thrilled to live in Hessen, Germany, Ahern says she’s eager to teach children and immerse herself in a new culture.

“I am most excited that I will get to work with people in a foreign country and help them learn more about both our language and our culture as a whole,” she says. “This program will allow me to further explore myself as a teacher and gain extremely valuable experience.”

Tejeswara Reddy

While at Willamette, Reddy served as president of the Associated Students of Willamette University. He studied genetically modified crops in India as a Carson Scholar, and, through the Take a Break program, he oversaw a group of volunteers who worked with Chicago’s homeless population.

Since graduating with a double major in politics and economics, Reddy taught in an underserved school in Phoenix through the Teach for America program. He earned his masters in secondary mathematics education from Arizona State University, and he worked as a policy fellow at the Department of Education’s Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development in Washington, D.C.

He’s now a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in Los Angeles, where he’s seeking to understand how the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is responding to the state’s severe drought problem.

Crediting Campus Life Dean David Douglass, politics professor Rachael Carella and Director of Student Fellowships Monique Bourque with helping him to win the award, Reddy says he’s ready to explore the social, economic and political forces alive and at play in modern Greece.

With the perspectives he gains there, he hopes to improve academic outcomes back in the U.S.

“Leaders with global perspectives can have unique inspiration to face challenges here at home,” he says.

Elisa Ahern

At Willamette, Ahern has worked as a Webber Scholar through the Willamette Science Outreach Program, in which female science students mentor and encourage young girls to pursue similar studies.

She is co-president of the German club, a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and a varsity volleyball and track and field athlete. She also works as a physics lab teaching assistant and a peer tutor at Willamette.

After completing the Fulbright, she intends to earn a master’s degree in bioinformatics, which is the science of collecting and analyzing complex biological data — such as genetic codes.

She wants to work in the bioinformatics industry, but also has an interest in teaching one day.

For more information about the Fulbright program and similar opportunities, contact the Office of Student Academic Grants and Awards.