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Doane College has added two new scholars to its long tradition with the Fulbright program.
Doane students have been awarded this prestigious competitive scholarship 59 times since the program's inception in 1946. Senior Aprill Bodlak of Emerson will spend an academic year teaching English in a school in Peru. Senior Rachel Kluthe of Wakefield will teach English in Spain.
The Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The prestigious program is designed to "increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries."
These Fulbright scholars grew up a few miles apart in northeast Nebraska. Read more about their journeys to Doane and their Fulbright title:
Areas of study: English as a Second Language, German, Spanish
Activities include: Cross country and track, German Club, Honors Program, honor societies, literacy volunteer, Spring Creek Prairie Volunteer
Aprill has a habit of telling her friends they won't get anything if they don't apply. So when mention of the Fulbright application came up, her friends told her to take her own advice.
They couldn't think of a better candidate. An Honors Program student, Aprill has been interested in travel, cultures and language as long as she can remember, back to her childhood growing up on a rural Emerson farm with three brothers, including her twin. (She texted all of her brothers at once when she learned about the Fulbright). Aprill even picked Doane for its emphasis on travel and exploring new cultures. She wanted a small school that would honor her scholarships while she studied abroad as a foreign language major. Doane's Crete campus fit the bill and offers a $1,000 travel scholarship to students.
Through Doane, Aprill studied abroad in Peru and Germany. "Those trips taught me not only differences between cultures but how many similarities there are, and that regardless of where we come from, most people are really good at heart."
In Peru, she completed an English teaching internship and volunteered with a Non-governmental organization (NGO) that provided after-school programs. She spent two days a week in a shantytown area of Lima called Villa El Salvador.
"People were super generous even though they didn't have anything. I felt like they were serving me instead of serving them."
After she helped children with homework, teachers and parents often would insist she stay for a meal - even if it meant the taxi driver had to wait outside two extra hours to take her home.
Her time in Germany was in stark contrast to Peru. Studying at the Goethe Institute, she met people from around the world. Many were political advisors from other European countries.
She will return to Peru for her Fulbright assignment, teaching adults English at teacher training institutes. Her year in Peru will begin in February of 2013, after working in Kenya with an NGO school teaching English and German.
All of her travels helped her pick the career path she wants to follow - teaching English as a foreign language and working in refugee resettlement.
"I want to be involved in service, working directly with people."
Areas of study: Elementary education, middle school endorsement, Spanish
Activities include: CRU, Honors Program, Student Honors Advisory Group, honor societies, Doane Ambassador, Doane Choir
As a Doane ambassador leading campus tours, Rachel Kluthe used to show her groups of prospective students a wall of Fulbright scholar photos in Perry Campus Center. At the time, she never thought about adding her picture to the collection. But several Doane professors did, encouraging her and helping her through the extensive Fulbright application process.
"Waiting for notification definitely tested my patience and faith. I prayed about whether I would get it; I prayed about the location. When I saw the email subject line that said ‘Ms. Kluthe...Congratulations,' I had tears of joy in eyes."
It was the culmination of the efforts of many people at Doane who encouraged her over the past four years. Each year, she said, a professor or staff member would pull her aside to say "‘You really should look at Spanish, or the Honors Program....study abroad...education, etc.'" Finally, they pushed her toward the Fulbright.
"You can choose from a lot of colleges that have a lot of opportunities. But Doane sees you and looks at what Doane can offer and they take that extra step to help you reach your goals. They put it together... Actually, Doane wasn't even on my list of schools until a teacher who is an alum told me to apply. I came on the visit and loved it. While other schools were saying: "Come here because we're good, Doane was saying: "Here's what we can do for you.'"
Her willingness to try new experiences and see new places started before college, with her family in Wakefield. Her parents were the kind she is grateful for - the kind who made her try every food on her plate and every activity their annual summer vacations could offer; the kind who hosted exchange students from Brazil and Germany.
"It was always about getting out of your comfort zone and gaining insight into new cultures. I'm very fortunate."
Travel became close to her heart, as did the Spanish language and the language barriers she could break with it.
"Being able to put both into this Fulbright is incredible to me."
Through Doane she has already traveled to Thailand, Costa Rica and Brazil. "Every trip made me want to go more places and appreciate more cultures."
During the next academic year, she will call Madrid home and be assistant-teaching English in a secondary school. Because her teaching endorsements are in elementary and middle school, the secondary school experience will be invaluable, she said.
She plans to use her Fulbright experiences in the classroom or another career that lets her use the Spanish language.
"I have all these hopes and plans and wishes, but I have always been a flexible person. I seek to rely wholeheartedly on my faith in God, for He leads me where I may best do His will."