Student Scholarships 2012

SUNY Oswego student wins scholarship to study in Germany

Palladium Times, 5-14-12

OSWEGO-The German Academic Exchange Service has awarded SUNY Oswego student Elizabeth de Reeder two scholarships to study in Germany for a year, starting in July. 

The dual major in German and teaching English to speakers of other languages with a linguistics minor will enroll for two semesters at the Freie Universitat Berlin this fall with a monthly stipend to cover tuition, fees, room, board and other living expenses.

In July, she plans to use a smaller scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service - a publicly funded organization for higher education institutions in Germany- for a course in Leipzig in teaching German as a foreign language, then take a course in Berlin to further boost her fluency in German.

John Lalande, de Reeder's adviser for German and chair of modern languages and literatures at SUNY Oswego, sponsored her for the academic yearlong scholarship, with support from other professors in modern languages, linguistics, education and English.  "This is a very prestigious award, which reflects well on Elizabeth, our high-quality German program here and our campus," Lalande said.

Academic traveler

 De Reeder said she pursues travel/study opportunities whenever she can, including a Congress-Bundestag scholarship she won as a high school student in Mattituck, Long Island, to study for a year in Germany.

During a later summer of travel, de Reeder was taking a course in Prague to become certified to teach English in Eastern Europe when she discovered linguistics. 

"The course I took in Prague exposed me to linguistics for the first time, and I was 'hooked' - learning about linguistics after studying foreign languages is like meeting the author of your favorite book," she said.  "Linguistics is like the how-to-manual for the existence of language, and it had never occurred to me that such a topic ever existed."

After teaching English in a Romanian kindergarten for a semester, she applied to SUNY Oswego.

Future plans include applying in fall for a Fulbright English teaching assistantship award that would provide a stipend for educators teaching English to speakers of other languages abroad, she said.

"I hope to spend that year working in Latin America, which will help increase my Spanish fluency and also provide me with more cultural experience that will serve as context for me once I'm teaching stateside," de Reeder said.  "After that I hope to spend at least four of the next seven years, as per my TEACH (Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education) grant stipulations, teaching in New York state and, hopefully, some or all of the remaining three years teaching abroad, possibly in Thailand or Indonesia."


Austrian Opportunity

Graduate student earns Austrian grant to teach in Salzburg

 SUNY Oswego student Benjamin Gerardi, due to receive a master's in education in May, will spend late September to the end of next May teaching in Salzburg as a guest of the Austrian government.

The program,  financed by Austria's Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture, awarded Gerardi a full grant to teach the language and serve as an authority on American culture to German-speaking students at a technical high school for the sciences and environment.  The Austrian government annually places about 130 Americans in teaching assistantships in all nine provinces.

"I was very, very excited to receive (the offer)," said Gerardi, who hails from Endicott.  "The process of accepting it was months of discussion with my family and loved ones.  I spent many long walks talking with each of them, making sure they were all on board.  Ultimately, they were very happy for me."

John Lalande, chair of modern languages and literatures and an expert on German-speaking cultures, said he recommended Gerardi for the program based on the student's strong grades, determination and many other attributes, including his command of the German languages.

Cultural immersion

The Salzburg opportunity won't be Gerardi's first extended stay in Austria.  As an undergraduate in German and linguistics at Binghamton University, Gerardi spent 2007-08 at the University of Graz-a study-abroad program Lalande says SUNY Oswego now partners in with Binghamton, along with another in Leipizig.

"In Graz, I had a lot of college friends," said Gerardi, who plans to honeymoon in Austria after his marriage this summer to SUNY Oswego alumna Jennifer Picalila.  "I now want to know and befriend people who supervise and work in exchange programs.  Having the command of the language I do now, I can reflect on things I may have missed the first time around.  I won't just be happy with functioning- I want to be an active resident of the city and employee of the school."

The Austrian program, administered by the Fulbright Commission affiliate, the Austrian-grants, Gerardi said.

Gerardi currently is finishing a student-teaching placement at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.  His modern-language methods teacher and mentor at SUNY Oswego is Joanne O'Toole, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in the School of Education.

"I'm absolutely thrilled for him," O'Toole said.  "He's most deserving.  He's a student who has sought out mentoring and sought out opportunities.  Ben actively engages with his teachers and his peers and just pushes himself continually to a higher level.  And this all just paid off."

It won't be all work for Gerardi, who looks forward to returning to a country whose beauty he grew to love:  Schlossberg, a castle on a forested hill in the middle of Graz; Frau Herzog's farm; and the many rural restaurants.

"One of the moments where I felt most connected was biking into the countryside," he said.  "The only rule was when the sun set, I had to get back."

Gerardi said Susan Coultrap-McQuin, director of the college's Institute for Global Engagement, introduced him to Fulbright Commission post-degree opportunities, and Lalande alerted him to the teaching assistantships program in Austria.

Lalande said the department of modern languages and literatures is assisting Gerardi with his travel expenses through a Global Experience Travel Grant.


(posted Apr. 20, 2012) Oswego Update