McCauley awarded Fulbright Award to teach in Turkey


NORMAL - Alyssa McCauley of Troy Grove, a senior education major at Illinois State University, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Turkey for the 2021-22 academic year. McCauley, a Mendota High School graduate (December 2015), is a senior secondary education English major with a minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

In a story posted by ISU, McCauley said she was shocked to receive the award. Even as she was applying for it a year earlier, she thought there was no way she would ever get it. In fact, not so many years ago, McCauley did not even envision herself attending college.

Even though she always had the support of her family, the school system was not a good fit for her. McCauley considered dropping out of high school but she received positive feedback and encouragement from her teacher, which caused her perspective to shift. She began seeing herself as someone who was deserving and capable of learning and becoming. “The reason that I went into teaching was because I wanted to be there for students too when they needed similar encouragement,” she said in the article.

Rather than dropping out, McCauley graduated early and attended community college. In looking for a four-year school to complete her degree, she wanted to go somewhere with a good education program and heard amazing things about ISU’s education program.

She has not regretted that decision and credits her ISU courses with Dr. Lisya Seloni, who taught her the value and complexities of multilingualism, and ISU Fulbright advisor Dr. Lea Cline for helping her achieve the dream of earning a Fulbright award. Even though it is a lot of work, McCauley encourages anyone considering a Fulbright application to at least try because you never know what life has in store.

McCauley is currently a student teacher at Chicago Public Schools’ Benito Juarez Community Academy. She is excited about the opportunity to spend nine months living and working in Turkey where she expects to be around people who might think differently than her. She will also be immersed in a community where English is not the dominant language, which is also likely to shift her perspective and make her a more flexible educator.

The Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program 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 primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.