Award recipient will teach in South Korea
KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 16, 2019) — Kennesaw State senior Lisa Smith describes working with children as the most rewarding thing she has done in her life. Now, she will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with children in South Korea.
Smith, an Honors College student dual majoring in international affairs and modern language and culture, has earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. After she graduates from KSU in May as an Honors Scholar, Smith will depart in July to teach English in South Korea for 13 months.
“It’s going to be an amazing experience,” Smith said. “I’m going to learn so much, and I’m excited that I’ll have the time to really be able to explore the whole country and its different cultures in-depth, and have a true immersion experience.”
Smith, who works with children as a swim coach and through her involvement with a KSU club teaching them about sustainability, developed an interest in education equality and equity after participating in a study abroad trip to Brazil through the Honors College’s PEGS (President’s Emerging Global Scholars) program.
“The most fulfilling thing I’ve done has been working with kids, and seeing the way that you can impact them and help them grow,” Smith said. “I’m excited that I’ll be able to do that through the Fulbright teaching assistantship.”
In addition to her passion for helping children, Smith also developed a love of languages and cultures from a young age, beginning with her mother encouraging her to learn about her German heritage. Her interest in Korean culture started with a middle-school classmate, who was from Korea, introducing her to the country’s music. Smith studied Korean culture in her spare time, then ramped up at KSU by taking a year of the language and becoming involved in the Korean Club and Korean conversation tables.
“Lisa is special,” said Michelle Miles, Kennesaw State’s director of national and international scholarships and fellowships. “Not only does she excel as a student, but she stands out as a person who understands attaining diverse cultural fluency not as an accolade, but as a pre-condition of a life committed to service. She demonstrates the very best KSU has to offer and will contribute much to our world.”
Miles assisted Smith in pursuing a Fulbright award, and was the first to hear that Smith had received it. Smith said she saw the email notification of her award as she was walking out after a class, and immediately turned back around to share the news with Miles.
As she approaches her final month as a Kennesaw State student, Smith credits the PEGS program for helping to shape who she is today.
“KSU has given me so many opportunities, and I’ve been so involved,” she said. “I think I was more empowered to do things here and found a lot more opportunities than I may have found at a different school, so this was a really good school for me.”
Post-graduation and through the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, Smith is hoping to find other opportunities. She said that her time in South Korea will help her determine if she wants to pursue a career in teaching or education policy. She also said that she may decide to extend her Fulbright contract and continue teaching there, or perhaps in France since she also has a minor in French.
“I’ve always been one to have plans, but then life sends me an opportunity and I grab it,” Smith said. “Once I’m a little further along and know more what I want to do, I’ll see what opportunities are out there.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by Rob Witzel
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.