Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Fulbright alum seeks to spread program awareness

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Kevin Timlin
University Photo

After experiencing the world with the help of a Fulbright scholarship, a Southeast faculty member looks to help do the same for students today.

Upon finishing his undergraduate degree, Executive Director of International Education and Services Kevin Timlin spent time in South Korea in 2008 on a Fulbright Scholarship.

The experience had such an impact on Timlin, he now works to spread awareness about the opportunity to current students. The Fulbright program provides grants to graduates for individually designed study and research projects, which often take participants abroad.

Some graduates in the program participate instead in English Teach Assistant Programs, which Timlin said is one of the most needed assets internationally.

As an English Major who did not study abroad or interact much with the international community during his college years, Timlin said his future plans involved becoming a teacher and coach and heading into the Peace Corps. His experience abroad changed those plans.

While it does not matter what an applicant’s major is, “probably a hundred countries” are seeking help through the Fulbright English Teaching Assistance program, the same effort in which Timlin took part.

“It’s a very big world out there, and if you haven’t had opportunities to broaden your horizons on the different opportunities that are out there, you just don’t think about them or you’re not aware of them,” Timlin said. “University is a great time to explore these opportunities.”

Currently, Timlin said he’s all about making the effort to be sure students are aware of the availability of funds that make these life-changing experiences possible. To that end, Timlin has been working alongside Spanish professor Debbie Lee-DiStefano.

“These are the types of opportunities that get students to get out there and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t know this was possible before,’” Timlin said.

The scholarship program, he said, is about “promoting the idea that international travel, going to another place, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone — you realize how big of a world it is.”

He added looking at the world from a different angle when going abroad can help to “challenge the way that we think about things, challenge how we can do things better. Challenge how we can be better people, better students, better citizens.”

While he said the Fulbright English Teaching Assistance program is committed to helping get students to apply, it is not atypical to have lack of successful participants in the program, “since it is such a prestigious award.”

The department is working to revise how to disseminate program information. Information sessions were held at the beginning of September.

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