Juliana Heffern ’17 will travel to Malaysia to teach English in January as the recipient of a prestigious 2017-18 Fulbright U.S. Student Award.
“Malaysia has piqued my interest as a culturally diverse and rapidly modernizing country where English teaching could be particularly useful for students,” says Heffern, a psychology major. “I want to help provide learning opportunities to Malaysian youth and, consequently, challenge myself to grow as a teacher and a more globally engaged citizen.”
Known for its highly competitive field of applicants, the Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Sara DeVault-Feldman ’17 (Vietnam), Jordan Loretz ’17 (Taiwan) and Danielle Mueller ’16, MAT ’17 (Czech Republic) were also awarded 2017-18 Fulbright Scholarships. For the second year in a row, Hobart and William Smith were named among the nation’s top colleges and universities with the most recipients of U.S. Fulbright Student Awards.
Heffern says her “deep-rooted and growing” interest in South Asia is a result of traveling with her father, William Heffern ’80, P’17, while he lived and worked in China and many of the surrounding countries. Travel to China, Cambodia and Vietnam sparked her desire to return to that part of the world “in an effort to learn more and gain new perspectives.”
Well-positioned to take on the demands of teaching and stewarding cross-cultural exchange in Malaysia, Heffern will draw from her previous teaching experience as a volunteer in a third-grade class for a non-profit school in Guatemala. She will also use skills gained from working as an athletics instructor and residential counselor at Wediko Children’s Services, a summer program for youth with behavioral and emotional challenges.
Outside the classroom in Malaysia, she will work up to 10 hours each week directing extracurricular activities or clubs. She plans to lead students in recreation activities and teach documentary photography as a means of promoting self-expression.
In addition to Heffern’s teaching experiences, lessons she learned from personal language study – which ranges from Khmer to Spanish and to the Czech language courses she took while studying abroad on the Colleges’ program in Prague, Czech Republic – will aid in her ability to “create a supportive and engaged classroom” in Malaysia.
At HWS, Heffern’s coursework predominantly focused on psychology and international relations. She was a member of the William Smith Club Soccer team, the College Experience Outreach Club, and served as a Pre-Orientation Adventure Program guide, an Orientation Mentor, an America Reads Tutor, a Community Lunch Program Volunteer, and secretary of the psychology honors society, Psi Chi.