Hobart and William Smith Colleges are proud to announce that senior Jane Erickson, a Colorado native, has been selected to receive a highly competitive Fulbright Assistantship in Indonesia where she will teach English to high school students.
Erickson will leave in July for Indonesia, a country where only half of the students finish primary school, on a 10-month program where she hopes to serve as an impetus for change through classroom teaching and involvement in community youth work.
“I think the magnitude of what I am about to embark on is still hitting me, but I know this will be the most enriching experience of my life so far, said the political science and public policy major, who admits to being both excited and a bit nervous.
A 2006 recipient of a Salisbury International Internship, Erickson developed her desire to work in Indonesia because of her HWS-sponsored summer experience in Northern Ireland with the National University of Ireland’s Community Knowledge Initiative.
“There is extreme sectarian divide in Belfast, she said. “The people in Northern Ireland identify with other countries that have had colonial rule. With all the problems in Indonesia and East Timor, it seemed that it was a place where I could experience another culture in a similar situation. It’s my ultimate goal to help the students see that ideas are fluid, and that opportunity—in their own country and abroad—is infinite through a better understanding of how to communicate with other individuals.
Erickson is eager to share her passion for activism and civic engagement that she cultivated while at HWS. In 2004, Erickson founded the HWS VOTES! project that mobilized 100 students to run a voter registration and education campaign during the presidential election. In 2005, she worked as a field organizer on Colorado’s “Vote Yes on Referenda C and D campaign in support of higher education funding. While studying off-campus in Washington, D.C., in 2006, Erickson worked with the Maryland Votes campaign that registered 8,500 area students to vote. Amidst it all, she is one of the founders of the non-profit agency Summit Educational Outreach Program at HWS, which provides school supplies for needy primary schools in Nairobi, Kenya. She also studied abroad in Galway, Ireland, is a member of the Herons lacrosse team, and has worked with America Reads.
“One year in Indonesia is not much time, but I hope through this Fulbright assignment that I am able to help young people better understand the muscle of their own voices and how they can work to build stronger communities, said Erickson.
Craig Rimmerman, professor of public policy studies and political science, who has had Erickson in class for four years says she distinguished herself beginning in her first-year as a dedicated and highly motivated young woman who continues to be engaged in serious ways in politics and public policy matters.
“Jane Erickson will be a smashing hit, said Rimmerman. “All of the work she has performed at Hobart and William Smith serves as the foundation for her educational outreach. I can’t think of a better prepared person for this position.
Economics Professor Pat McGuire, who wrote a letter of support for Erickson, agrees. “Jane is quick to understand the issues and challenges involved and moves to do something while others are still trying to figure out how to approach the problem. She does this in courses, internships, discussions and problem solving and I have seen it in each of these situations.
Fulbright recipients are selected based on academic and professional achievements as well as their demonstrated leadership potential. The Fulbright exchange program was established in 1946 to build joint understanding between the people of the United States and other nations of the world.
Erickson is a Richard Abbe ’92 and Michael Gantcher ’92 Scholar and is a member of Hai Timiai.
A story about her award was included in the March 22 edition of Inside Lacrosse.com.
The Finger Lakes Times also printed a story about the award, in the Tuesday, March 27 edition.