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Fulbrights awarded to OSU student, faculty members

Friday, April 25, 2008

Christy Milliken
(April 25, 2008   Stillwater, OK) - Oklahoma State University senior Christy Milliken will spend 2008-09 in Indonesia as part of the U.S. State Department’s Fulbright Program. At the same time, faculty members William Decker in the OSU Department of English and Elizabeth Catlos in the Pickens School of Geology will use Fulbright awards for sabbaticals abroad.

Milliken, an English and economics major from Edmond, was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, which places students as English teaching assistants in overseas schools to improve foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the U.S.

“I had previous experience in China, which I thought would translate very well into another South Asian country,” she said. “I had a wonderful experience teaching in China and wanted to continue the opportunity. Fulbright is a fabulous avenue to allow me to do this.”

“Oklahoma State University is proud of Christy’s commitment to make a difference in the world,” said OSU President Burns Hargis. “It is vital in today’s world, both economically and politically, that students have an international experience, and OSU’s goal is to help provide 100 percent of our graduates some type of international experience.”

Growing up, Milliken never pictured herself teaching English abroad. “It is an inexplicable fondness for the English language and enthusiasm to teach that led me to foreign avenues.”

Milliken is no stranger to living or traveling overseas. In the summer of 2005, she studied at the Burgundy School of Business in Dijon, France. In the summer of 2006, she studied English at Magdalene College in Cambridge, England. In March 2007, she studied humanities in Spain and Morocco.

In the summer of 2007, she boarded a plane for China, without a job but knowing she’d find a position teaching English. “The unfamiliarity of a land so far removed from our western ways of life called to me, and when I ventured into an ESL classroom, it was in China,” she said.

For two months, she taught English in a variety of settings, including a primary and secondary school summer camp in Xuzhou; lecturing for English majors at a university in Shijiazhuang; tutoring a high school senior; and recording a series of conversations that would be administered as the oral section of the standardized middle school final exam. During this time, she lived with a local family and took weekly Mandarin lessons.

She is aware that like in China, she will be expected to dress and conduct herself modestly at all times while in Indonesia, she said. “I think it will be a fascinating experience. I have numerous friends studying the Middle Eastern region.”

A skilled saxophonist, she also hopes to learn to play along with Indonesia gamelan bands. Gamelan is an important music of Indonesia, very characteristic and perhaps unique to the region.

This past year, she helped organize a town hall in Stillwater, attended by approximately 600 people, on U.S.-Islamic World Relations that featured speakers from across the nation.

Milliken will receive her OSU Honors Degree in English in May, along with a B.A. in economics.

She has been named a 2008 OSU Outstanding Senior and was named to the College of Arts and Sciences Top Ten Seniors. She was a 2007 Junior Fellow of the American Academy of Political Science and Social Science, a 2006 Sen. Don Nickles Fellow, and was selected for Phi Kappa Phi honor society, and Mortar Board. She has served as president of the A&S Student Council, and is currently Senate Vice Chair of the Student Government Association.

Milliken hopes to attend law school to study international law when she returns. “I would like to work for the U.S. government and possibly do economic policy work,” she said. She also plans to stay involved with her writing. “I love travel writing and hope to continue this, possibly working as a freelance writer for a magazine or other publication.”

    She is the daughter of Paul and Dorothy Milliken of Edmond, and is a 2004 graduate of Bishop McGuinness High School.

The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program that is 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 program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, currently operates in more than 155 countries worldwide. The term “Fulbright Program” actually encompasses numerous exchanges programs for individuals and institutions.

Decker, who served as Milliken’s honors thesis faculty adviser, received a Fulbright Scholar award to teach American Literature at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. The university, founded by Pope Martin V in 1425, is one of the largest and most prominent in Europe. The appointment will provide Decker, a professor of English, the opportunity to continue research on a book about American travel in Europe.  

Catlos’ Fulbright supports a visiting faculty position at Middle East Technical University in Ankara. While in Turkey, the associate professor of geology will teach undergraduate and graduate courses in the area of the geosciences, while learning more about the geology of Turkey and connecting with Turkish researchers and faculty. Catlos also will teach a course for non-majors, or geology majors at the beginning of their coursework, and a seminar class related to her research specialties, metamorphic petrology and geochronology.

For the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, students must be U.S. citizens with a bachelor’s degree or possess equivalent training or professional experience by the start of the grant, in good health, and have sufficient language ability as required by the host country and in keeping with the Fulbright mission.

According to Stephen W. Hallgren, OSU Fulbright adviser and associate professor of natural resource ecology and management, the number of OSU students applying for the Fulbright Program is expected to increase in the next few years. “We believe OSU has the students suitable and meritorious of these awards and we are working to make sure they have the opportunity to apply and present themselves well,” he said.

The application process is long and demanding, he said, but students can win awards as English Teaching Assistants or as visiting researchers or scholars to work on projects. According to Hallgren, three students have received Fulbright awards during the past 10 years. The number of applicants from OSU is approximately 10 per year.

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