Charllotte Costa ’14, whose fascination with the immigrant experience has propelled her career at Washington College, has won a Fulbright award to work as an English teaching assistant in Mexico after graduation.
Costa, a double major in anthropology and Hispanic studies, joins two other WC students who have earned Fulbrights in the past two semesters: Sarah Masker ’14, a double major in English and Hispanic studies who’s currently teaching on a Fulbright in Brazil; and Emily Hall ’14, a human development major who leaves for Nepal in July for a nine-month teaching position.
“I am really excited. It’s full circle with all the work I have done and everything I want to do. It brings it all back together,” Costa says. “Getting to go to Mexico and be an English teacher, I can see where everything starts and where this need to learn English comes from, and how it translates to the whole immigration process. And since I did my whole senior thesis on the American dream, I might be able to see where this idea of the American dream starts for all of these students over there.”
Costa has devoted countless hours through the WC-Latino Community Volunteer Program working with local children helping them learn English. She worked at Shared Opportunities in Chestertown, helping Hispanic families prepare their children for school, and has taught a group of about eight youngsters at Garnett Elementary in Chestertown.
“Our students cannot wait to see her each week,” says Donna Bedell, Garnett’s Judy Center coordinator. “That has motivated them to want to do better, and it keeps Charllotte so motivated that every time she sees one of the children remember the word from last week … she can’t wait to give more information to them. It’s inspiring to watch the interaction between them.”
Patrice DiQuinzio, WC’s associate provost for academic services, says Costa “brings a quiet confidence and competence to all she does.”
“She is passionate about access to education for all, regardless of age or status, and the value of learning languages. It is her long-term career goal to contribute to both in the U.S.,” DiQuinzio says. “She will be an outstanding ambassador of the United States in Mexico, bringing her passion for teaching and learning to her Mexican students and becoming even better prepared to advance the cause of equal access to education in the U.S. when she returns.”
Elena Deanda, Costa’s advisor and assistant professor of Spanish, says from the outset, Costa’s deep interest in the immigrant experience has fueled her ambition to break down cultural barriers, both locally and nationally. “Charllotte’s work is contributing enormously to Washington College’s community service and to the Hispanic population in the region at large. All in all, she aims to empower communities by changing public and foreign policies, but more importantly by fostering understanding and respect of different types of individuals. The Fulbright program will surely enhance the already accomplished and ambitious plans she has envisioned thus far.”
Costa, who studied abroad in Peru for a semester, is a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society, as well as Alpha Chi Omega. She leaves for Mexico at the end of August and will return in May 2015.