Three recent Seaver College graduates and one GSEP alumna have joined the elite rank of Fulbright Scholars, one of the most prestigious scholarly awards worldwide. Kealy Jaynes ('13), Anna Sherod ('13), and Natalie Forde ('13) will live out the Fulbright Program's motto of "Service Above Self" as they prepare to travel all over the globe to embark on a diverse array of experiences as English Teaching Assistants (ETA) and researchers.
Furthermore, Reale Santora (MA '12), a master of arts in education alumna of the Graduate School of Education and Psychology, has been chosen as an alternate to pursue scholarship in Malta.
Meet the three Seaver alumnae and hear how, in their own words, they will learn from their experiences, contribute to cultural research and relations, and fulfill J. William Fulbright's plan for his Scholars to "bring a little more knowledge, a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs and thereby to increase the chance that nations will learn at last to live in peace and friendship."
Kealy Jaynes ('13, English)
I love the mission of Fulbright as a cultural exchange. One of the most exciting things about going to Turkey for me is the fact that the country and culture are so different than anything I have experienced before. This will be my first time living in a primarily Muslim country, first time being near the Mediterranean, and first time learning Turkish, so on a somewhat selfish level, I am excited to broaden my own perspective and experiences.
I was so blessed by the Teacher Ed. department at Pepperdine, and one of the things I took away from my classes is the importance of keeping a global perspective when teaching and the ability to adapt my classroom to a variety of cultures, perspectives, and unique needs. Teaching abroad will be a crash course in both of those areas. I am excited to learn more about Turkish culture, explore the country, and grow in my ability to engage students in the study of language.
Personally, I think going beyond the known, comfortable or understood in intentional ways is really important, and in my life it has been one of the ways I grow and learn the most in my life and in my faith. Sometimes it takes being pushed outside our comfort zones for us to see beyond our myopic view of God and the world.
Anna Sherod ('13, International Studies)
I applied to go to Romania because of a life changing experience I had volunteering there in 2011 while studying abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. Over several weeks in Romania, I met a wide range of people working with orphans: stressed nurses, dedicated social workers, long-term volunteers from the US, and more. I stayed at the house of a woman named Viorica Duta. Along with her husband Niky, she has kept in constant contact with dozens of orphans for years, acted as their advocate, and provided them with a stable connection to Romanian society and culture. She makes them delicious food, helps them get to church, and takes them on excursions to historical sites.
As I joined in her work briefly, I realized how fascinating and unique Romanian traditions are. I noticed wide gaps in cultural understanding and practical knowledge among children in the orphanages. I came to the conclusion that these gaps could only be filled by the explanation of a parent or grandparent willing to spend one-on-one time, like Mrs. Duta was doing.
As I study in Romania, I hope to explore how orphans are integrated into Romanian society, and as I come to understand local needs, I hope to make a small impact in Constanta by pairing youth with older mentors for intergenerational cooking and meal-sharing. I am inspired by the model of School on Wheels, a nonprofit in Los Angeles that pairs volunteer tutors with homeless children to bolster their academic skills. I believe strongly in the power of one volunteer affecting one life at a time.
Natalie Forde ('13, International Studies/German)
During my four years at Pepperdine I developed an interest in the disturbing patterns of mass atrocities that plagued several nations in the last century. I am passionate about discovering ways we can prevent these tragedies through education and public policy. As a Fulbright scholar I plan to research the implementation of Holocaust Education in German schools as a potential model for improving Holocaust and genocide curriculum in schools worldwide.
Studying abroad in Pepperdine's East Africa program was particularly influential, because I had the opportunity to learn about the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. Visiting the sites where these horrific tragedies took place left me with a renewed sense of urgency at the need to prevent future mass atrocities and improve worldwide human rights education.
Through Pepperdine's Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies Internship Program I am currently working as an International Seminars intern at the Yad Vashem International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem. At Yad Vashem I am learning about the various ways teachers and policymakers around the world are working to better educate their citizens about the tragic legacy of the Holocaust in order to assure that "Never Again" becomes a reality. I hope that the experience I gain at Yad Vashem this summer will help me contribute meaningful research that will assist my school district and others.