Katherine Heaton ’16 was the 21st student from the University of Redlands in eight years to receive a Fulbright award—considered the highest and most competitive awards for overseas research or teaching from the federal government.
Heaton is spending her Fulbright year in France as an English teacher’s assistant at Lycée Albert Schweitzer in Mulhouse. In addition to improving her French—she hopes to be fluent when she returns—and exploring the region—Mulhouse is close to the borders of Germany and Switzerland—Heaton says she wants to “help the students, grow myself and hopefully grow together.”
“An exceptional young woman; she is pure of spirit, thriving most when she can help others,” said Mara Winick, professor of organizational behavior and theory. “She envisions possibility where others would not have the courage to explore. Kate will make the world a better place wherever she goes.”
France isn’t “foreign” to Heaton. She studied a semester abroad in Paris, where she immersed herself in art, especially the impressionists, and “loved the experience of going to museums on my own, and being able to just take it all in.”
Before Paris, and before Redlands, Heaton applied to 27 outside scholarships and received 13. The beautiful campus, small class sizes and accessibility to professors won her to Redlands, where although she was previously “certain” she wanted to go into the special education field, taking classes opened her eyes to other areas. She ultimately majored in both sociology and French.
“I was interested in studying other populations that I could work with,” she said. “I thought sociology was the perfect step to explore different social groups and organizations of society. There’s freedom to study what you’re interested in, and there are so many paths to take.”
The University of Redlands has been recognized as a “Top Producer of Fulbright Students,” most recently in the 2015-16 academic year.
Professor Jack Osborn, who mentors Fulbright candidates, attributes the University’s success in the program to a combination of student quality and department support: “Our faculty have made a commitment to the program, encouraging their best and brightest to apply and hoping for them the incredible opportunity to go out into the global community and conduct research or service.”
The University’s 21 Fulbright Students have traveled to France, Germany, Mexico, New Zealand, Guatemala, Norway, Spain, Japan, Morocco and Taiwan—10 to conduct research and the other 10 to teach. Their majors include global business, international studies, languages, biology, communicative disorders and music.
“One of the University’s missions is academic excellence,” said Osborn. “Clearly the Fulbright program reflects that. It is highly competitive—our students compete with individuals from Ivy League schools and every liberal arts college in the United States.”