North Park University Student Earns Fulbright Award, Heads to Colombia
Michelle Wells, Monroe, Wash., is the University's eighth Fulbright award recipient in the past four years.
Michelle Wells joins two other 2012-2013 University Fulbright recipients
Chicago (July 18, 2012) — Michelle Wells and her sister, Laurel, were on a two-month visit to Europe earlier this summer when Michelle got an email message early one morning while in Spain: The U.S. Fulbright Program had granted her application to go to Colombia to be an English Teaching Assistant for one year. Wells joins two other North Park University women who were awarded Fulbright scholarships this year. The University has now had eight Fulbright scholarship recipients in the past four years.
Wells, of Monroe, Wash., learned during the spring semester that she had been designated a Fulbright scholarship alternate. That meant she would be granted the award only if someone else was unable to go. "It was very unexpected," Wells said in an interview. "I had written it off. I was prepared to go on to other ventures. So this was quite the surprise." Wells, who graduated from North Park University in May, was in a job interview process with an international organization when she heard from the Fulbright Program.
South America is familiar to Wells, who lived and studied in Ecuador and Argentina during her college years. Now she will join more than 30 other recipients of Fulbright grants who will study and work in Colombia this coming year. Wells will help teach English to graduate students at the Universidad Pedagógica y Tecnólogica de Colombia, Tunja.
Wells said her international experience has taught her a great deal. "Every time I am abroad, I am so amazed by the similarities as well as the differences in cultures. I think in this world, especially in my generation, globalization is key to our success. Part of this program is to create U.S.–Colombian relations, and I love that idea," she said. Wells also believes her Fulbright experience will benefit her in the future. She hopes to work in an international nonprofit organization, and perhaps one day, attend graduate school.
Wells credits Dr. Linda Parkyn, North Park University professor of Spanish and a former Fulbright Scholar, for motivating her to apply for the Fulbright teaching award. "I'm grateful Michelle will be able to use her considerable gifts in language, culture, and business to teach young Colombian students," Parkyn said. Wells "will listen, figure out how she can be of service, and dive right in to do all that it takes to be effective. Adaptability with a shot of hard work and determination describes her work these past four years. These qualities will help her to share our country, our language, and our spirit with students," she added.
Wells is looking forward to helping other students improve their English proficiency so they can better understand both English and Spanish, a plus in international business and commerce. "It's so important. Spanish has opened a lot of doors for me, even in the U.S. It's so critical for relating to people, and relating to people who are different than I am. I think for them it'll be very rewarding."
Wells earned a bachelor's degree from the University in Global Studies, with concentrations in Latin American and African studies. Her minor was Spanish, plus she earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership and Management. Wells' mother, Sue, is a teacher. Her father, Rev. David Wells, is a pastor of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), specializing in family and marriage counseling and therapy. North Park University is affiliated with the ECC.
Joining Wells with Fulbright Program teaching assignments this year are Karen Kelly and Nnenna Okore. Kelly, a 2012 University graduate, was awarded an English Teaching Assistantship to teach in a secondary school in Andorra, a small European country between France and Spain. Okore, associate professor and art department chair, was named a U.S. Fulbright Scholar, and will teach and work closely on environmental art projects with artists, galleries, and art organizations in her home country of Nigeria.
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