In spring 2021, Roosevelt University senior Ariana Pozos will travel to Madrid through the competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program. As an English teaching assistant, she will work closely with high school students and lead discussions about American culture and history.
“I was absolutely ecstatic at the news,” Pozos said. “The greatest teachers I've had have all emphasized the importance of cultural exchange and encouraged open discussions of new ideas, so it feels wonderful to know I'll soon be a source and facilitator of this for students in Spain.”
The Roosevelt student had not considered applying for the Fulbright program until political science professor David Faris encouraged her to take a gap year before law school. Other faculty members and the Office of Student Research offered support as she assembled the in-depth application.
“I have to thank the incredible faculty at Roosevelt for this tremendous honor,” Pozos said. “Dr. Laura Nussbaum-Barberena, Dr. Heather Dalmage and Dr. Andy Trees were instrumental in helping me get my application together. I've worked extensively with them during my time at Roosevelt and owe a lot of my knowledge to their mentorship and guidance.”
To be selected, students have to demonstrate strong academic achievement, leadership and Spanish proficiency. More than 700 students applied for the English teaching assistant program in Spain, and Pozos was one of only 190 chosen.
For Pozos, like many college seniors across the country, the coronavirus pandemic had upended her post-graduation plans. In her hometown of Capron, Illinois, the political science major struggled to stay on top of her remote course work with her unreliable internet connection. She worried that her hopes to travel abroad would be impossible.
She learned of her acceptance to the Fulbright program in mid-April after returning to shelter in place in Roosevelt’s residence halls. Now Pozos is looking ahead to May 8, when she will become the first in her immediate family to earn a bachelor’s degree.
As a Mansfield Scholar, Pozos helped coordinate campus lectures, workshops and discussions led by experts like James Forman Jr. and Imbolo Mbue. She also cofounded the Mansfield Scholar Activism Organization, a student group that will tackle new social justice issues each year. In 2020, the group will focus on environmental injustice in Chicago's South and Southwest sides.
While Fulbright awards usually support students for a full year, the 2020-21 program has been abbreviated due to safety concerns around COVID-19.
“It's disappointing to know that my time in Spain will be reduced to half of what it otherwise would have been, but I'm nonetheless excited about my departure and hopeful for the future,” Pozos said. “It’s an absolute honor to be a Fulbright recipient and I plan to make the most out of my time there.”
About the Fulbright
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
Fulbright U.S. Student alumni populate a range of professions and include ambassadors, members of Congress, judges, heads of corporations, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors, and teachers.