Michael Nelson Receives Fulbright Scholarship
North Park University's Sixth Fulbright Winner in Four Years
CHICAGO (May 9, 2011) — North Park University announced today that senior Michael Nelson of Bangor, Maine, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Scholarship. He is the sixth student from the school to receive the honor in the last four years.
Nelson, a history major who graduates this month, will travel to Poland in the fall to teach English and American culture. The experience will enable him to further his own education as he prepares to pursue a graduate degree in the humanities or social sciences. In addition to teaching English in Poland, Nelson hopes to research the development of Polish national consciousness in the United States.
Nelson said he was inspired to teach in Eastern Europe after reading authors such as Fyodor Dostoevsky and Alexander Solzhenitsyn while a junior at North Park. His interest in Poland grew while interning at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago.
Dr. Linda Parkyn, the professor of Spanish who has guided the University’s previous five Fulbright winners, encouraged Nelson to apply for the scholarship and educate himself about the country where he wanted to teach. “When Michael told me he was interested in applying for an assignment in Eastern Europe, especially Poland, I sent him to find a supporting internship in Chicago and he found a great one. Applying successfully for these prestigious awards is possible only when the students take the initiative to prepare themselves in distinctive ways.”
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries. It provides participants, chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Nelson has been working to increase mutual understanding among cultures while attending North Park University. He taught English to Nepali refugees at the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago and said of his experience, “An older Nepali man name Tikaram Kafley, who even in his difficult circumstances always seemed jovial and eager to learn, became motivation for me to bike five sweaty miles up to Rogers Park every week to teach.”
His coming work in Poland won’t be the first time Nelson has advanced his education overseas. He recently finished studying at Oxford University in England for three-and-a-half months through North Park's Study Abroad program. Nelson learned he had been awarded the Fulbright via text message while on a train traveling through Germany following his stint at Oxford. “I shut my phone immediately — just shocked. I double-checked and triple-checked,” Nelson said.
Nelson is the son of Eric (C'76) and Lisa (C'78) Nelson.
Previous Fulbright winners at North Park University over the last four years are Aaron Nilson, Riley Clark, Ruth Blidar, Laura Johnson, and Rebecca Miller.