HomepageNewsA Love of Language: Tia Alan ’24 Earns Prestigious Fulbright Fellowship

A Love of Language: Tia Alan ’24 Earns Prestigious Fulbright Fellowship

As a Fulbright awardee, Alan will be a standalone professor at a university in Morocco for 10 months beginning in August.

Tia Alan ’24 understands the power of language.

“Similar to love languages,” she wrote, “there are learning languages—ways in which we try to understand one another and find common ground even when words escape us.”

Later this year, Alan will put that statement to practice and continue to explore her passion for language when she teaches English at a university in Morocco on a Fulbright fellowship—one of the world’s largest and most diverse international educational programs.

Fulbright scholars are devoted to increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. More than 2,000 U.S. students, artists, and early career professionals in more than 100 different fields of study receive Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants annually to study, teach English, and conduct research overseas.

Alan wrote the quotation above as part of her statement of purpose for the program and, rather than serving as a teaching assistant, she has the unique opportunity to be a standalone professor in Morocco throughout the duration of her experience.

“It means a lot to me. I’ve been dreaming of this for a while.,” Alan said. “I’ve been really wanting the opportunity not only to gain a cultural experience, but also to be a representative of my own country.”

Alan, who is from Chester Springs, Pa., is a double major in international relations and anthropology and sociology. She is a member of Scholars in Service, is a Melrose Fellow, and is a prevention specialist for the Peer Advocates, a campus group that provides support and guidance related to Title IX and sexual misconduct issues. She’s also a French tutor and an academic coach, and volunteers as a teacher for the GED test in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.

Each has inspired Alan’s interests in culture, service, teaching, and learning. But among the most influential of her experiences was an internship at the Strasbourg, France, location of Caritas, a non-government organization that serves people living in poverty.

There, she said, “I realized that linguistic and cultural discrimination was taking place with the majority of immigrants seeking aid at Caritas, so I spent a lot of time in the classroom as I wanted to see how Gabi [a French as a second language teacher at the internship] was able to talk to people without knowing their language.”

At first, Alan said she felt there were some misconceptions surrounding her, an American, in France. But she said, “It was amazing to share my own history and demonstrate my knowledge of theirs. How can we live together? I think that’s very important when you’re in a different cultural environment.”

For Alan, the experience abroad is personal. She admits to struggling throughout high school and leaning on her teacher mentors to help get her to college and realize her potential. She speaks openly about those challenges, and she saw that level of transparency and honesty as a way to break down language barriers while in France.

It also makes her upcoming Fulbright experience far more meaningful. She said she wants to provide that level of mentorship to her own students—one that makes a difference in their lives.

“I don’t care as much if my students are perfect at every single word in English,” Alan said. “I really just want them to learn what they love about learning language or learning about themselves.”

Alan has a passion for nonprofit work, especially involving immigrants, and she hopes to work for an NGO in the future.

“I think the faculty here have really been so amazing for my journey,” Alan said. “I love the liberal arts background that I’ve received and I’m really hoping to implement that into my classes [in Morocco]. Professors like Becky Evans and Andrea Kauffman-Berry have supported me this entire way. I have so many people I met my freshman year that they’ve been guiding me along and helping me reach goals I never thought I could dream up.”

Alan is Ursinus’s second consecutive Fulbright winner and the fourth since 2018.

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