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New graduate receives prestigious Fulbright teaching assistantship

Published July 1, 2014

May graduate Katherine Thoreson will soon use her talents to teach European students how to confidently converse in English. The NDSU honors student recently was named among three NDSU recipients of prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships.

As a teaching assistant, she will spend an academic year in Belgium, teaching conversational English at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, a French-language institution in Brussels. She’ll instruct students in the use of common, often-used English verbs, adjectives and phrases, which will help the learners improve their conversational skills when meeting people or building friendships.

Recent NDSU graduate Katherine Thoreson snagged a highly competitive Fulbright teaching assistantship. This fall she will teach conversational English at a university in Belgium.

The Fulbright program is considered the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Recent college graduates and young professionals are placed as English teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools or universities in countries around the globe. The recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Thoreson, who graduated May 17 with majors in English and philosophy, begins her work in earnest in September, but she plans to travel to Belgium in August to have time to explore different regions of Europe and acclimate herself to her new surroundings.

“It’s going to be exciting living in a different place for nine months and getting used to the culture there,” said Thoreson, who grew up on a farm near Buxton, North Dakota, and went to May-Port CG High School. “I’ve lived in North Dakota my entire life, so I’m excited to go a different country and see how things are done there. It should be a rewarding experience.”

Thoreson completed three years of university-level instruction in French, the primary language used at her host school, and studied French literature.

She also was an active participant in the NDSU English club’s Conversational English Circle since arriving as a freshman. The group allows students to conduct cross-cultural conversations with others from a variety of nations and upbringings.

“The NDSU College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the humanities experience I got there have prepared me really well for the kind of work I’ll do in Belgium,” she said. “It really helped me get a sense of what I think is important in the world. I’ve met many international students and people who don’t come from the same background, and that’s been an eye-opening experience.”

Thoreson is among three NDSU recipients of Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Scholarships. That number is the most the university has ever been awarded during one cycle. She joins senior Emily Grenz, who will be an instructor in Turkey, and recent NDSU alumna Annie Erling Gofus, who will work in the Slovak Republic.

“There have been seven NDSU students who have received Fulbright awards since 1999. It is a highly competitive award, and three awards speaks highly to the caliber of our students,” said Lisa Hauck, NDSU director of global outreach.

For now, Thoreson is keeping her career options open, suggesting her time in Belgium may point the way for her future. “I think doing this will prepare me for whatever career I decide to do.”

She is the daughter of Steven and Janice Thoreson of Buxton, North Dakota.


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