On Monday Kellie Griffith, a graduating Wagner College senior from Riverhead, New York, got the news she’s been waiting for since last September: She has won a highly selective Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Ecuador, where she will work as an English Teaching Assistant next year.
According to the U.S. State Department, the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships Program places U.S. students as English T.A.s in schools or universities overseas, thus improving foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States while enhancing the T.A.’s own language skills and knowledge of the host country.
Griffith has been involved in Wagner College civic engagement activities since her first year as a student, when she joined the college’s Habitat for Humanity chapter on a five-day service trip to the city of Cuenca, Ecuador. Because of her fluency in Spanish, she served as the chapter’s translator for much of its weeklong stay.
“I had to communicate some very basic messages to my fellow students, like ‘Don’t let that wall fall down!’,” Griffith said, laughing.
Griffith, an education and Spanish major, got even more practice using the Spanish language while serving as a coordinator for Wagner’s tutoring programs at El Centro del Inmigrante, an immigrant association located in the Staten Island community of Port Richmond, where about 60 percent of all residents come from Mexico or Central America.
And last summer, Griffith fulfilled an 8-week internship as a teaching assistant at a preschool in Costa Rica.
“Although my official title was ‘Cultural Ambassador,’ my students called me ‘Niña Kellie’,” Griffith said.
All of these experiences, combined with her college training as an educator, have fully prepared Griffith for her Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Ecuador.
“As a Fulbright ETA, I will have the opportunity to do what I love: teach, speak Spanish and build relationships,” she said. “During my Wagner College career I have tried to become an expert at being truly ‘civically engaged,’ and I am confident I can draw on my experience and skill set in Ecuador.”
Congratulations, Kellie Griffith!
Kellie Griffith talks about her experience as a T.A. in Costa Rica, her work in Port Richmond, her previous visit to Ecuador, and the Fulbright award: