Fulbright Winner Headed to Mexico

Emma Cathell had purposeful reasons for majoring in Social Work and Spanish at NC State.


Her desire for a career in helping others pointed straight to Social Work. As for Spanish, her passion for the foreign language, Latin culture and history had been brewing since middle school.


However it wasn’t until her junior year, when she studied abroad in Argentina, that Cathell learned the two majors would make for an ideal pairing.


Emma Cathell, left, presenting research at the Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina conference in Charleston earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Emma Cathell.

“Studying abroad gave me assurance these degrees would be useful,” Cathell said. “Not only was it an opportunity to strengthen my Spanish, but a chance to gain a better global and cultural perspective and understanding.”


The trip serves as an inspiration for what will soon be the next step in Cathell’s educational journey: a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Mexico.


One of seven NC State students to earn a competitive Fulbright grant this year, Cathell will spend 9-10 months teaching English to students at a school or university in Mexico. Cathell said her role will also include serving as a cultural ambassador for the United States.


“When we are not teaching in the classrooms, it is expected that English Teaching Assistants spend time working with the school and within the community,” Cathell said. She’ll begin the assistantship this fall.


Cathell earned her B.A. in Spanish Languages and Literatures in May and completed her social work degree this summer. A member of the University Scholars Program, Cathell also served as secretary of the Spanish honor society Sigma Delta Pi. She was inducted as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society earlier this year.


As a senior, Cathell expanded her learning in the classroom through undergraduate research. Studying Hispanic linguistics with professor Rebecca Ronquest, Cathell helped present some of their findings at the Spanish Linguistics in North Carolina conference in February.


Among all her accomplishments, Cathell said she’s most proud of her work with NC State’s student newspaper, Technician. She wrote for the paper for four years and served as editor of the “Features” and “Bienvenidos” sections her senior year. “Bienvenidos” is the bimonthly bilingual section of Technician.


“Its aim is to improve literacy rates among Latinos and also draw more Latinos to NC State by increasing awareness of our programs among members of our Latino community,” Cathell said of “Bienvenidos”. “It was such an honor to be editor; though our staff was quite small last year, we were passionate, talented and hardworking, publishing two pages of content, twice a month, all year long.”


Cathell heard about the Fulbright program through the University Scholars Program. She said NC State’s Fellowship Advising Office and its director, Tiffany Kershner, offered a lot of support and assistance during the application process. For instance, after Cathell learned she was a semi-finalist, the advising office recruited Spanish lecturer Karen Tharrington and NC State and Fulbright alum Alex Martin (International Studies ‘12) to help her prepare.


After her time in Mexico, Cathell said she wants to further her education. Her current goal is law school. “I hope that my background in social work and experience abroad will give me both great perspective and great momentum to achieve this goal.”

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