Rachel Abbott Revisits Her German Roots

Fellowships & Student Research German Psychology
July 1, 2019

Rachel Abbott ‘19 has lived a cross-cultural life. She grew up in Cincinnati, but was born in Baden -Württemberg Germany and lived there until the age of five.

Now she will have an opportunity to explore her roots and immerse herself in German culture. One of nine Denison University Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) award recipients in the Class of 2019, Abbott will live and work in the German state of Bavaria in the year after her graduation.

“One of the reasons I am so excited about this opportunity is because it’s allowing me to return to the country where I was born and experience it as an adult.” says Abbott.

In her last semester at Denison, the psychology major took an educational studies course with time in a Granville Intermediate School classroom.

Abbott developed close relationships with two 4th grade classes and applied her own classroom lessons in a real-world setting — something she also will draw upon during her Fulbright experience. Those hours spent with school-age children re-shaped her perception of teaching.

“This is something that I am very excited for – getting to know my students and experiencing the joys of learning alongside them,” says Abbott, who is looking forward to applying her skillset to her new community.

Many of Abbott’s professors were influential during her time at Denison, but if she had to narrow it down to three, her biggest mentors would be Erin Henshaw, associate professor of psychology; Kristina Steiner, assistant professor of psychology and German Professor Gary Baker.

“Dr. Baker is the reason I applied to Fulbright,” says Abbott. “He helped me realize my own potential and move past much of my self-doubt and anxiety… He and his wife, Dr. Suzanne Baker, were incredibly generous … they would open the doors of their home to students, providing delicious snacks, love and support. I’m forever indebted to the Bakers.”

“She is a very caring and intelligent person…” says Baker. “Her capacity for empathy and kindness are what make her intellectual insights so reflective. She’s always had a sense of equilibrium and a sort of calm maturity that instilled confidence in others.”

The help and support that Abbott received from the Lisska Center were consistent, reliable, and hugely beneficial throughout the months-long application process.

“I read somewhere online that most people who are awarded Fulbright’s report spending at least 50 hours on the application,” says Abbott. “So, I decided early on to give it all I got.”

Abbott looks forward to exploring the German countryside as an English teacher.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), 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.

During the 2018-19 academic year, 24 Denison students and recent alumni were awarded international fellowships and honors, including prestigious Fulbright, Boren, and Goldwater Scholarships. Denison was named a “Top Fulbright Producer” in 2015, 2017, and 2018.

Over the past 20 years, in addition to Abbott, Denison has sent 16 Fulbright English Teaching Assistants to Germany.

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