When Claire Pask graduated from Lake Highlands High in 2015 and went away to university, she went far away – to Reed College in Portland Oregon. Now she’s ready to take on an even bigger world. She’s received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant award from the Institute of International Education, and she’ll spend the next academic year teaching English at the Universidad de Malaga in Spain.
“It’s thrilling in every sense of the word,” Claire told me. “I’m more nervous about teaching at a university where most of the students are likely the same age as me than about living on my own in Spain for a year.”
While there, Claire will assist teaching staff, conduct writing workshops and tutor students. She’ll also complete a personal project, organize and edit a student poetry journal and facilitate poetry readings on campus and in the broader community.
“I think this is the first time I’ve really felt proud of myself,” said Claire, amazingly. “I’ve been proud of different accomplishments of mine in the past, sure, but in a distant sort of way. It wasn’t until I received the grant and took in my professors’ reactions that I understood just what I had accomplished in winning the Fulbright.”
Claire will graduate in May with a degree in English literature, and her undergraduate thesis is on gender and the natural world in Katherine Mansfield’s short stories. (A feature article from her college newspaper can be found here.) She’s done internships in Haiti and studied abroad at the University of Edinburgh. After her Fulbright year, she has her eye on Harvard, where she plans to work on a master’s degree.
“My hope is that my time spent working with a university professor next year will help me decide whether or not I want to go on to become a professor of English myself or go into the publishing field,” said Claire, who has edited publications at Reed and been an editorial intern at the Peabody Essex Museum. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”