Specht ’20 Announced as Fulbright and Critical Language Semi-Finalist

January 24, 2020 Caitlin Burns

Specht with outstretched arms in front of Brazil's Jesus statue.

Specht in Brazil during her gap year in 2016.

International Studies and Spanish double major Heidi Specht ’20 has her sights set on working in Brazil after graduation. This month, she’s moved one step closer to making it a reality. She learned that she’s a semi-finalist for both the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Award and Critical Language Scholarship (CLS).

While the Fulbright would take her to Brazil to teach English at the University level, the CLS would help her further her Portuguese skills in the southern city of Florianópolis at the University of South Santa Catarina.

“One is language learning, while the other is language teaching,” said Specht, who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, but values the opportunity the CLS would provide to understand cultural aspects in addition to the language lessons. “I was really surprised when I heard I moved onto the semi-finalists for both. I applied to CLS on a whim, after I completed the Fulbright award.”

Specht spent a year in Brazil living with a host family before enrolling at Arcadia University. This experience inspired her Arcadia journey, as she’s since studied abroad in London, England on the First-Year Study Abroad Experience, and Valparaíso, Chile, and Granada, Spain, each as traditional programs. 

While in Chile, Specht learned Spanish and volunteered as an English Teaching Assistant in a local school, which provided the experience necessary to be placed in the English Foreign Language internship position in Spain.

“After the semester in Europe, I came out feeling aimless like I was checking off a bucket list of must-sees,” said Specht. “It made me realize the importance of intentional travel, so I approached future abroad experiences with more conscientiousness.”

Specht hopes that if she receives these awards, she’ll be on a path to helping minority groups in Philadelphia as an English language teacher or with a nonprofit organization working in the community. If she receives both awards, Specht will head to Florianópolis this summer for the CLS before returning to Brazil in January 2021 as a Fulbright teaching assistant. She would be the third Arcadia student to be selected for an ETA award, and the sixth community member to receive a Fulbright award in the past five years. 

Each year, CLS selects students from approximately 100 universities and colleges to participate in 15 language learning programs for various skill levels. The Fulbright program awards between 60 and 90 ETA awards each year for locations in Brazil.

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