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NMSU graduate awarded competitive Fulbright grant to teach in Colombia

New Mexico State University graduate Sarah Casson, of Albuquerque, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant for an English teaching assistantship in Colombia.

Young woman with Mexico scenery in background
New Mexico State University honors graduate Sarah Casson, shown here during her summer teaching English in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, has been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant for an English teaching assistantship in Colombia. (Submitted photo)

Casson graduated with Distinction in University Honors from NMSU in December 2013, earning two bachelor’s degrees in government and Spanish, with minors in public administration and business administration while maintaining a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average.

She’s one of more than 1,800 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2014-2015 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.

In addition to spending two semester-long exchanges to Spain and Chile, Casson completed summer internships in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Through her Fulbright grant, Casson is now working as an English teaching assistant at Universidad del Norte in Barranquilla, and will complete a self-designed social project during her time there.

“One of my favorite parts of my time at NMSU was working with domestic and international students at my work study in the Office of Education Abroad, and helping NMSU students learn about all the great programs and scholarships to study abroad,” Casson said. “Now I'm hoping to do something similar for my social project in Barranquilla, where I will raise students’ awareness of their opportunities to go abroad, including through the Fulbright Program.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.

After her time in Colombia, Casson said she hopes to complete a master’s program in international education and work to facilitate international education programs for a university or at the government level.

“As someone with a strong interest in Latin America and an aspiration to work in international education, the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship integrates my personal and professional interests perfectly,” Casson said. “It will allow me to facilitate what I love most about international education: bringing new perspectives of the U.S. to the students I teach, while learning about Colombia from them.”

Casson said she’s grateful for support she got from the Honors College and the Office of Education Abroad.

“I'm so grateful to NMSU for fostering my academic interests and providing a global community on campus,” she said. “I would encourage current students to take advantage of all the resources the Honors College provides and – of course – to study abroad.”

Mark Andersen, associate dean of the Honors College and director of the college’s Office of National Scholarships and International Education, worked with Casson on her application for the Fulbright Program and said he was very pleased to see her succeed.

“She worked very hard on her application, and her hard work paid off,” Andersen said. “I'd love to see more of our students applying for competitive awards such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright and Gates-Cambridge scholarships.”

For more information about the Honors College and the national scholarship office, visit http://honors.nmsu.edu.