Cydney Chibnall ’15 has been selected for a prestigious 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to France, a highly prized honor that will give her the chance to work abroad as an English teaching assistant. During each of the past three years, more than 150 applicants have vied for the six teaching grants available annually in France.
Known for being especially competitive, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. This year, Chibnall is one of seven members of the Classes of 2015 – a record number for a single year at the Colleges – who have earned Fulbright awards around the world, including Katherine Cornell ’15, Jeanine Cryan ’15, Georgia Decker ’15, Kathryn DePietro ’15, Jordyn Dezago ’15 and Christopher Troy ’15. HWS was also recently recognized as a top producer of 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Students.
“I am so excited and grateful that I will have yet another opportunity to travel and experience the world through Fulbright,” says Chibnall, who previously took part in an HWS abroad program in France. “After studying in Rennes, I knew I wanted to try to go back, and I am lucky to have that chance once again.”
Following her passion for education and desire to immerse herself in the study of language acquisition, Chibnall will teach English as a second language at a high school. In addition, she will explore French culture and regional language. She also plans to volunteer in afterschool programs that will cover both academic and recreational activities, such as tutoring and athletics.
“I would love to use my knowledge of and experience with afterschool programs in the United States to either help create or simply work in afterschool programs in France, as well as become involved with special education in France,” she says.
Chibnall says that in addition to her interest in studying language acquisition and communication disorders, she has a passion for working with people with disabilities.
“Disabilities are viewed very differently in France than in the U.S., and I hope to learn more about these differences and how they affect special education in France,” she says.
A psychology major, Chibnall has a dual minor in French and Francophone studies, and cognition, logic and language. She also served as both a French Teaching Fellow and French teaching assistant at the Colleges. During her study abroad experience to Rennes, she worked as an English teaching assistant.
At the Colleges, Chibnall earned a Faculty Scholarship for academic excellence and has made the Dean’s list. She is a member of and has served as treasurer of the Psi Chi psychology honors society. She also works as a student photographer in the Office of Communications, has served as the treasurer of the UNICEF Club, and has volunteered with the local Head Start children’s program, the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva and with the America Counts program.
In anticipation of her Fulbright, Chibnall says she’s also looking forward to traveling, and being immersed in the French culture.
“While studying abroad in Rennes, I realized that ‘French’ culture doesn’t have one meaning: even though France is a small country in comparison to the U.S., it is very diverse culturally, historically and linguistically,” she says. “Regionally distinct languages, foods and traditions have been preserved throughout history, and I am excited to explore these more in-depth while living in France.”
Chibnall credits her HWS education and the support of faculty and staff for getting her to achieve her goal of earning a Fulbright. She says she received particular support and encouragement from HWS Health Professions and Fellowships Adviser Scott MacPhail, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies Courtney Wells, Associate Professor and Chair Psychology Michelle Rizzella, Associate Professor and Chair of Education Paul Kehle.
“My education here has opened so many doors, and has allowed me to explore so many different areas of study, something that I think is unique to liberal arts schools,” she says.
Following her Fulbright experience, Chibnall plans to study language acquisition and communication disorders in graduate school.
“My plan is to combine my passions to study language acquisition and communication disorders in graduate school, and being able to teach English in France will give me the opportunity to experience and explore language acquisition in another culture,” Chibnall says.