Brazil Bound on a Fulbright
Sarah Masker ’14, a double major in English and Hispanic studies, has won a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Brazil in 2014, where she’ll work as an English teaching assistant. After graduating a semester early in December, she’ll head for Brazil in February for a nine-month appointment.
“There was a lot of jumping up and down and screaming and hugging,” Masker says of the moments after she got the email confirming that she’d won the scholarship. As South America’s largest country prepares for its role on the world stage as host of the 2016 Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament next summer, it’s encouraging people like Masker to bring their language skills to the country and teach English. As of late September she didn’t know where she would be assigned, though she expected to be teaching students at the university level or higher.
“She’s wonderful. She’s one of the best students I’ve taught in forty years, and that’s a lot of students,” says Richard Gillin, the Ernest A. Howard professor of English literature and director of the Humanities Program, who wrote one of Masker’s recommendation letters. “She has a talent, a spark.” Katherine Maynard, associate professor of French, and Shawn Stein, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, also wrote recommendations for Masker, and Elena Deanda, assistant professor of Spanish, conducted a language evaluation for her application.
Writing and preparing the application took nearly a year, Masker says. Her interviews were conducted via Skype and email during her semester abroad last fall at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, where she studied Portuguese and Spanish. A copy editor on the student newspaper The Elm since her sophomore year, Masker came to Washington College intending to major in English and minor in creative writing. But she liked her Spanish classes so well she decided that rather than drop the Spanish she’d learned in high school, she’d take it to a new level in college. She added French as a minor.
Two summers ago, she was one of five students in the country who won a scholarship from Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, which she used to travel to Madrid and study for a month. And this past summer, she hiked 75 miles in seven days along Spain’s historic Camino de Santiago on a Douglass Cater Society grant.
She’s combining her love of English and Hispanic culture and literature in her senior thesis as well, exploring the role of magical realism as social protest in the fiction of Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende and Laura Esquivel.
“Sarah is going to be a great ambassador of the U.S. in Brazil,” says Patrice DiQuinzio, associate provost for academic services. “Her love of learning languages and cultures is infectious and her students of English will learn a great deal from her.”