Kathryn DePietro ’15 is the seventh member of the Classes of 2015 to receive a prestigious 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Award – a record number for a single year at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In early 2016, DePietro will travel to Brazil where she will begin her Fulbright experience as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA).
“Few words can describe what I felt when I was chosen as a grantee for the Fulbright ETA award to travel to Brazil,” says DePietro, a double major in Spanish and Hispanic studies and arts and education. “Enthralled. Ecstatic. Most importantly, I am incredibly grateful for the help I received from the people at HWS that made this possible.”
DePietro joins fellow Fulbright recipients from the Classes of 2015: Cydney Chibnall ’15 (France), Katherine Cornell ’15 (India), Jeanine Cryan ’15 (Greece), Georgia Decker ’15 (Malaysia), Jordyn Dezago ’15 (Ecuador) and Christopher Troy ’15 (Argentina). Provost and Dean of Faculty Titilayo Ufomata also received the prestigious Fulbright International Education Administrator (IEA) Seminar Award to France. HWS recently was among the colleges and universities recognized as a top producer of 2013-14 Fulbright U.S. Students.
“I am convinced that our students do so well in these highly competitive national fellowship programs because they grow and achieve in so many areas while at HWS,” says HWS Health Professions and Fellowships Adviser Scott MacPhail. “Like her fellow winners, Kate received remarkable support from her faculty mentors, took full advantage of the programming offered by Global Education, engaged with gusto in extracurricular programming, and made use of her own advantages by working for the betterment of others.”
Known for its highly competitive field of applicants, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.
“The impressive work of these members of the Classes of 2015 continues to bring international distinction to Hobart and William Smith, and illuminates the strength of study abroad, globalization and the Colleges’ participation at a global scale,” says Ufomata, who will take part in the IEA Fulbright program in cooperation with the Franco-American Commission for Education Exchange this October. “Seven Fulbright winners in a single year is a record at the Colleges and we are pleased to celebrate this great achievement with them as they prepare for their journeys abroad.”
During her Fulbright experience, DePietro will teach English to Brazilian college students. She says one of her main goals through the Fulbright program is to foster cultural connections with the students she’ll be tutoring. Through her work, she also looks forward to immersing herself in Brazilian culture and language.
“It is truly important to me to learn the language of my students so that we can create a bridge of understanding,” DePietro says. “If I can understand my students and make a more comfortable environment for them, I will be able to improve, adjust and individualize my tutoring methods.”
At the core of her educational philosophy, DePietro has a focus on language exchange and bilingualism/trilingualism. In addition to tutoring, DePietro, who focused on theatre through the studio art component of her arts and education major, plans to be involved with theatre and will travel across Brazil when the opportunities arise. An inaugural member of the social change theatre troupe Mosaic NY, DePietro says she hopes to launch a bilingual theatre group in addition to her role as an English teacher. The group would provide an opportunity for students to engage around provoking dialogue, theatrical texts and theatre games, she says.
“Led by Associate Professor of Theatre Heather May, Mosaic taught me the many transformative powers of theatre, as we created theatrical pieces intended to spark dialogue about social justice issues on campus,” DePietro explains. “Additionally, practicing theatre mirrors the way one learns a language: we practice breathing, vocabulary, pronunciation and enunciation. I hope to model my theatre club after Mosaic in order to create a safe space for cultural exchange where my students can practice English, their native language Portuguese, and most importantly learn more about each other.”
At HWS, DePietro was a recipient of the William Smith Presidential Scholarship and studied abroad to Spain. She graduated magna cum laude. Locally, she served as an ‘English as a Second Language’ tutor, and was a theatre camp director as well as an assistant Spanish camp teacher. DePietro was also an actor and member of the stage crew on many HWS Theatre productions.
DePietro credits academic support and guidance from her advisers Professor of Education Pat Collins P’09 and Associate Professor and Chair of Spanish and Hispanic Studies May Farnsworth, as well as Associate Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies Caroline Travalia, May and MacPhail.
Following her Fulbright experience, DePietro says she intends to become a certified bilingual teacher as she works toward a master’s degree in both Spanish and drama education.