Adrian Secter ‘16 has been chosen as the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright fellowship for international study, and he will teach English in Mongolia during the 2016-17 academic year.
Secter, an international relations major with a minor in philosophy, has been active with Model United Nations and has served as the club's treasurer, vice president, and conference coordinator. He has led Knox's Model UN team at conferences in Chicago, Illinois; Helsinki, Finland; and Belgrade, Serbia.
He also has conducted field research on urban politics and transportation in Berlin, Germany, and Istanbul, Turkey, as part of a project for Knox's interdisciplinary European Identities course. As a junior, he studied abroad in Mongolia and had an internship with the Institute for Strategic Studies, a government foreign policy think tank.
Secter is one of three Knox students to be selected in 2016 for a Fulbright. The others are Charlie Harned ‘16 and Tawni Sasaki ‘16.
Here, Secter answers a few questions about the Fulbright.
Please explain your Fulbright award as much as you can, in terms of what you will be doing, when, where, etc.
My Fulbright award is an English Teaching Award (ETA), which means I have been assigned to a university in Mongolia where I will work with the teachers within the foreign language department. My university is the Mongolian Institute for Engineering and Technology, which is located in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. In addition to teaching, the Fulbright program allows for and encourages out-of-class English activities. We also serve as "cultural ambassadors" as part of the U.S. Embassy's public affairs program.
What motivated you to apply for a Fulbright?
I was attracted to Fulbright because it mirrored the choice I had made as a senior in high school. Back then, I took a gap year, teaching English in Besisahar, Nepal. This was an excellent decision before going on to Knox, and Fulbright seemed like a great parallel decision before going on with my post-Knox life.
What do you hope to accomplish—and learn—through the Fulbright experience?
My foremost priority is fulfilling all my ETA duties to the best of my ability. Beyond that, I am excited to return to Mongolia. There is that old cliché about "never stepping in the same river twice," but I suppose clichés endure because there is an element of truth about them. I certainly feel that way about Fulbright in Mongolia vs. studying abroad there.
How do you think your Knox education and experiences contributed to your selection as a Fulbright recipient?
It is impossible to overstate the impact Knox has had on me becoming a Fulbright recipient. The most obvious impact, of course, is study abroad and the Global Studies Center's aid in that, but Fulbright really is the summation of a thousand little things that speak to the best of Knox.
For example, I had stopped into the Vovis Center [for Research and Advanced Study] to drop off my third Richter Grant and left with information on how to apply for Fulbright—all because Mariangela Maguire took notice of the international nature of my Richter Grants (they were essential to Helsinki and Belgrade experiences). I found that sort of interest and involvement beyond what is strictly required not only in Mariangela, but in my classroom education as well.
This all has helped me travel, research, and learn across the globe. In turn, this type of experiential education greatly strengthened my Fulbright application.
Are there any particular individuals (faculty members, for instance) or classes at Knox that have greatly contributed to your growth and education here?
The aforementioned Global Studies Center and Robin Ragan, the Vovis Center and Mariangela Maguire were both crucial. Professors Daniel Beers, Emre Sencer, and Todd Heidt can't be ignored. Both Professors Beers and Sencer wrote letters of recommendation for me on what can only be described as the shortest of notices, while Professor Heidt, as a member of the Fulbright Committee, provided keen and critical suggestions on how to improve my Fulbright essays.
What (besides the Fulbright) are your after-Knox plans—especially in terms of career and/or further education?
I hope to attend graduate school for international relations, but I'm primarily focused on the Fulbright project as of now.
More about the Fulbright
The Fulbright program was developed by the U.S. Department of State to strengthen international understanding between people from the United States and other parts of the world-on a face-to-face experiential basis.
Knox College has a long history with the Fulbright program. Since 2006, 16 Knox College students have been selected for Fulbright awards. Overall, dozens of Knox students, faculty members, and alumni have received Fulbright fellowships and scholarships.