March 30, 2012
Erin McKinstry, a Knox College senior from DeSoto, Missouri, has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright fellowship for international study in Germany.
She will teach English. She also plans to pursue an internship, perhaps with an organization specializing in international women's issues, and work on a research project about the impact of Turkish-German women writers on contemporary German literature.
McKinstry said one of the reasons she applied for a Fulbright in Germany is because she feels "very comfortable with the language."
"That's key. To be able to help the students, I need to be able to understand their language," she said.
McKinstry is majoring in modern languages (Spanish and German) at Knox, and she has two minors: in dance and international relations. Her extracurricular activities include serving as president of the Terpsichore Dance Collective, Knox's student-run dance troupe; participating in German Club; and volunteering with Reading Buddies.
She spent much of the 2010-11 academic year in Germany, first in a study abroad program and later completing an internship with TanzScout, an organization that offers workshops for people who want to gain a better understanding of dance. She also studied for a term in Barcelona, Spain.
"I really love the culture of Germany. I think it's an interesting and beautiful country," she said. "I also love linguistics, and German is a grammatically complex language. That's fascinating to me."
McKinstry praised Knox faculty members in the Department of Modern Languages for their role in her academic development. She referred to Assistant Professor Sonja Klocke, who helped her obtain the TanzScout internship, as an "amazing" professor. "She's very intelligent and thorough and helpful," McKinstry added.
Visiting Assistant Professor Todd Heidt, a past Fulbright recipient, helped McKinstry navigate the process of applying for the fellowship.
As a first-year student, McKinstry recalled, she took a Spanish class with Associate Professor Tim Foster, who accompanied the students on a trip to Mexico.
"It was one of the first times that I got to go abroad and use my language skills and really put myself out there," she said. "It got me more excited about language and using it in a practical sense, rather than just learning it in the classroom."
After completing the Fulbright fellowship, McKinstry said, she hopes to join the Peace Corps and then enroll in graduate school to study linguistics or international relations.
Knox College has a long history with the highly selective Fulbright awards program.
During the past decade, more than two dozen Knox students, faculty members, and alumni have been chosen to receive the awards.
The Fulbright program is the leading international educational exchange sponsored by the U.S. government. Fellowship recipients are chosen on the basis of academic merit and leadership potential. (Photo below: Erin McKinstry with friends at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany.)