William Smith College senior Jordyn Dezago has been selected for the prestigious 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Student Award to Ecuador, giving her a coveted once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to follow her passion for teaching while advancing her connection with Ecuadorian culture. Dezago has been a four-year member of the William Smith soccer program, playing for the junior varsity team for most of her career.
Through the program, Dezago will work in higher education as an English teaching assistant at an institution where she will instruct and mentor students who are preparing to be English teachers.
Known for drawing a highly competitive field of applicants, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. This spring, Dezago is one of four HWS students who have received Fulbright awards. HWS recently was among the colleges and universities that produced the most 2013-2014 Fulbright U.S. Students.
“I feel incredibly lucky to receive such an amazing honor,” says Dezago, a dual major in French and Francophone studies, and comparative literature. She also is completing a minor in Spanish and Hispanic studies. “I know that my abroad experiences through the Fulbright program will have a huge impact on my role in any classroom.”
A midfielder on the soccer team, Dezago played three seasons on the junior varsity squad and one on the varsity team. In 2012, she earned Liberty League All-Academic honors and played in four matches, helping the varsity Herons to a 14-2-4 record and a Liberty League Championship. In her three years on the junior varsity team, Dezago helped William Smith to a 32-5-2 overall record.
Dezago says she’s excited to become a part of an amazing Ecuadorian community. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant, Dezago says she hopes to initiate a tutoring program that will benefit both the students she will work with, as well as local primary and secondary public school children.
“My plan for community engagement is to hopefully create a lasting partnership between the institutions that would give my soon-to-be English teachers the opportunity to teach English in the public schools, which I hope would inspire the younger public-school students in their own studies,” she says.
Dezago first experienced Ecuador in spring 2014 during the Colleges’ Ecuador/Peru study abroad program. During that time, she studied at the Andean Center for Latin American Studies, and later held an internship at a human rights nonprofit in Lima, Peru.
“My passion for teaching is probably only matched by my love for learning new things, both in and out of the classroom,” Dezago says.
She has lived by that ethos at HWS, staying deeply involved in her studies, athletic pursuits and in extracurricular activities alike.
Dezago says that during her upcoming Fulbright experience, she also hopes to initiate and facilitate recreational programs with a focus on mentorship between older and younger students.
At HWS, Dezago is a Trustee Scholar, an awardee of the Colleges’ International Initiative Fund Grant, a recipient of the Michele Tote ’70 Memorial Scholarship and has been named to the Dean’s List from 2011-2014. She is a member of the Women’s Collective and is a Day of Service volunteer. In addition, she is a Teaching Fellow in the French and Francophone Studies Department and is a tour guide for the Office of Admissions.
Dezago has studied abroad in France and served as an English teaching fellow at the Jules Ferry Primary School in Rennes.
“As for Ecuador, I fell in love with Ecuador the minute I set foot in Quito,” Dezago says. “I want to give back to the people that made me feel at home every single day I was there. I still talk to my host family in Quito, and they ask me when I’m coming back to Ecuador almost every day.”
As Dezago gets ready for her Fulbright experience, she credits HWS for preparing her for her journey and for guiding her during the application process.
She says many people offered their support and insights along the way, including Health Professions and Fellowship Adviser Scott MacPhail, as well as those who offered recommendation letters: Assistant Professor of Psychology Brien Ashdown, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies Fernando Rodríguez-Mansilla, and Johana Reyes from her internship in Peru. Dezago also credits the Center for Global Education for connecting her with “so many amazing abroad opportunities.”
Looking to the future, Dezago says the Fulbright program is the beginning of what she hopes is a long career in teaching and language study.
“I’ve learned that when we take chances and learn new things, we acquire parts of ourselves that reflect who we are, where we come from, and what we’ve learned along the way,” Dezago says. “I want to inspire this cultural reflection in others, the way Ecuador inspired it in me.”