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Monmouth University Graduate Student Victoria Cattelona Receives Fulbright Award

Victoria M. Cattelona ’20, graduate student in the accelerated Master of Arts in Teaching program and graduate assistant to the Institute of Global Understanding (IGU) who earned her undergraduate degree at Monmouth University in political science, has been awarded a 2021-2022 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) in the Czech Republic from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Through this program, Cattelona will teach English as well as share knowledge and foster meaningful connections across communities in the United States and the Czech Republic.

“I am immeasurably thrilled to have learned that I am a finalist!” Cattelona said. “I am still processing the news, and I expect that I will not truly believe it until I am on the plane in August. I am also grateful to have the chance to represent Monmouth University and the Jersey Shore while serving as a cultural ambassador for the United States.”

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected in an open, merit-based competition that considers leadership potential, academic and/or professional achievement, and record of service. Cattelona was encouraged to apply for an English Teaching Assistantship in July 2020 by Professor Randall Abate, director of the IGU. “I reasoned that being able to put myself in the shoes of a secondary student learning a foreign language would be invaluable in informing my instructional practice,” she explained.

While in the Czech Republic, Cattelona will seek to immerse herself in the local and national history and culture while making history come alive for her students. “The Czech Republic has a rich narrative that I plan to highlight in the courses that I will teach when I return to the United States. I am especially interested in highlighting the Czech Republic with my students because the lands and peoples that constitute the country are crucial to our learning of world history,” she said.

Cattelona, whose primary academic focus is civil education, will also host events that promote cultural exchange, including a club for current events, mock elections, and debates to complement the country’s fall legislative elections and screenings of American political films.

“As a former office assistant and current graduate assistant for the IGU, I have participated in multiple discussions with Monmouth University faculty members who have been involved in intercultural exchange through service, teaching, and research,” Cattelona said, noting that her undergraduate and graduate course work at Monmouth has highlighted cross-cultural understanding. “These discussions have captured my imagination — and perhaps even more so during the current pandemic due to the limited travel opportunities over the last year — and have contributed to my strong appreciation for human connection. I am eager to begin my Fulbright experience with the benefit of this insight from my mentors and colleagues.”

Cattelona will earn secondary level certification with a social studies specialization in May 2021, followed by an English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement in the summer. She earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in history from Monmouth in May 2020. As a graduate of Monmouth’s Honors School, she completed a thesis on civic education’s role in promoting youth voter turnout, conducting a quantitative analysis of data from the 2016 presidential and 2018 midterm elections under the guidance of her thesis advisor Associate Professor Joseph Patten and second thesis reader Assistant Professor Stephen Chapman. Cattelona also holds an associate in arts degree in political science from Brookdale Community College, where she served on the college’s Board of Trustees between 2018 and 2019 and represented postsecondary students at national and international conferences.

In 2018, the faculty involved with reinstating the IGU at Monmouth University made mentoring students and faculty for international fellowships such as Fulbright Awards one of its priorities. Since 2020, under the IGU directorship of Abate, and the Fulbright and Global Partnerships Committee members Michael Cronin, Mihaela Moscaliuc, and Jiwon Kim, have promoted the programs and assisted students and faculty through the application process.

Interim Provost Rekha Datta said, “In this, the 75th year of the Fulbright history, as a Fulbright Scholar, on behalf of all my faculty colleagues and fellow Fulbrighters, Professors Priscilla Gac-Artigas, Mihaela Moscaliuc, Mary Kate Azcuy, Michael Cronin, and Professor Emeritus Bill Mitchell, I congratulate Victoria on receiving this prestigious award. That Victoria has been named a Fulbright awardee in this extraordinarily challenging year is testimony to her determination and commitment and the excellent education and mentorship she has received at Monmouth. I thank IGU and Mihaela Moscaliuc for mentoring her to navigate the application process. The academic skills she developed through her undergraduate and graduate experiences at Monmouth, cross-cultural awareness, and the knowledge and importance of civic education that she received in these programs and through her work with IGU will serve as critical assets for her success as an ETA in the Czech Republic. We wish her lots of luck on this life-changing journey and opportunity as a Fulbright awardee.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to forge lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, counter misunderstandings, and help people and nations work together toward common goals. Since its establishment in 1946, the Fulbright Program has enabled more than 390,000 dedicated and accomplished students, scholars, artists, teachers, and professionals of all backgrounds to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and find solutions to shared international concerns. The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered at Monmouth University through the Institute for Global Understanding.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright.