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UMBC grad student awarded Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

William Klotz, graduate research assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs and student teacher at Catonsville High School, has been awarded an English teaching assistantship from the Fulbright U.S. student program to teach English to students in Mexico this coming academic year. Klotz is one of only five students at UMBC to receive a Fulbright grant for the 2017-2018 academic year and only one of 60 students accepted nationally to teach English in Mexico.

As a recipient of the Fulbright program, Klotz will live in Mexico for 10 months and be placed in a teacher-training institute, a university or high school, in order to further his education and provide classes to students. The program aims to encourage cultural exchanges by exposing recipients to other countries viewpoints while they teach, interact and live in their host country. Additionally, to further facilitate cultural understanding, Klotz will study the native Aztec Nahuatl language and Mexican dancing during his time abroad. He will specifically research standardized Nahuatl, which shares a pronunciation style with Spanish stemming from its adaptation in Mexico during colonization. Klotz gained an appreciation for dancing during his time at UMBC and will be attempting to learn and understand the regional dances local specific regions during his free time in Mexico.

The year-long Fulbright application process began last spring, with informational sessions taking place in April, which involved both personal statement and grant application essays to be written during the summer. Both the Fulbright program and UMBC have separate deadlines for submissions which result in applications being sent off in October, with approval being required from both the United States and their country of application. Klotz and the other recipients were than notified of their final application status in March and will travel to their host country in August.

Klotz had previously lived in Argentina and so chose to apply for a Mexican assistantship due to the country’s position as a gateway to Latin America for a lot of American students, as well as the current political atmosphere surrounding the country. “I can use my time in Mexico to help connect current knowledge students have or conceptions about, Mexico… and then from there I can bridge them to the other countries,” he said.

Klotz, who currently holds a masters degree in foreign education, hopes that his time with the Fulbright program will help further his ambitions to be a teacher and is aiming to teach Spanish after he returns, potentially at his former high school with the goal of eventually receiving a Ph.D. in either Hispanic literature or performance study.

Klotz recommends that students aiming to receive scholarships to study abroad “write about [their] personal life… just practice writing about [themselves] and just learn how to write really good narratives…”

He added, “Don’t stop because of one rejection letter. For this one Fulbright I got, there are many rejections from grant applications that I applied for… there are tens and tens of grant applicants and scholarships that I applied for that I didn’t get. You just gotta try again.”