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Student Spotlights

Languages open doors to other cultures for Fulbright Scholar

July 9, 2015

Michael Young’s love of languages brought him to IU Bloomington, a campus internationally renowned for its programs in more than 70 languages. As an undergraduate, Young honed his fluency in Spanish and German, while also exploring Arabic and other languages. He soon found that his love of language naturally fostered an interest in other cultures, and he found himself in the right place to nurture this interest.

“There’s a great deal of intellectual diversity,” Young said of the Bloomington campus. “I’ve gotten guidance and support from faculty members in all sorts of fields. And I think that’s probably why I have a triple major, because I couldn’t decide on just one or two.” 

Young graduated from IU's College of Arts and Sciences in May with majors in Arabic, sociology and linguistics -- fields that not only reflected the depth and diversity of his intellectual interests, but also paved the way for his future plans. Less than a week before graduation day, Young’s immediate future came into focus. He was celebrating at a barbeque with family and friends when he received an email telling him he was off to Jordan for ten months to teach English as a Fulbright Scholar.

“I just happened to glance at my email on my phone quickly and saw my acceptance email,” Young said. “I started freaking out.”

Young is one of 10 Fulbright Scholars among IU Bloomington’s graduating class of 2015. He joins a long line of past recipients from a campus that has a reputation as one of the nation’s most prolific producers of Fulbright Scholars. Young says his successful application owes a great deal to the support he received from IU Bloomington’s Office of Competitive Awards and Research, and from associate director Paul Fogleman in particular.

“I started meeting with Paul in August of my senior year,” Young said. “He sort of guides you through the whole process.” That process included information sessions, workshops on application materials, and several campus interviews that prepared Young to vie for one of the most competitive academic scholarships in the world.

Although he has little experience as an English teacher, Young looks forward to the challenge. He also looks forward to the opportunity to immerse himself in a different culture by taking what he’s learned at IU Bloomington out into world. He fully expects to learn just as much from his students as they’ll learn from him.

“I think the best way to learn about another culture is to learn the language and actually speak to people.”

Young's love of language and his participation in the Fulbright program aligns with several priorities in the university's Bicentennial Strategic Plan, including a commitment to student success and global engagement.

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