September 2015, Volume 19, Number 4



The Wide World of Fulbright at MDC

A year ago, Irina Tursunkulova first visited MDC as part of the Fulbright Gateway Orientation before heading to the University of Maryland to pursue a master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

A native of Russia, she was so impressed after learning MDC professors had put immense effort into establishing bilingual education that she set her sights on returning to conduct research in second-language acquisition.

Fast forward 10 months, and Tursunkulova spent a rewarding summer at Kendall Campus working with MDC professors as part of the Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program.

“Miami Dade College is so student-oriented,” said Tursunkulova, who aspires to become a world language professor. “The way they help people here surpasses anything I’ve ever seen at other institutions.”

The Edmund S. Muskie Internship Program is a reincarnation of a former academic exchange program. This new professional exchange, funded by the U.S. Department of State, provides emerging leaders from Eastern Europe, the Caucuses and Central Asia with the opportunity to gain real-world experiences enriching their graduate studies in the United States. Tursunkulova is among the inaugural group of this new endeavor.

“Out of all the U.S. colleges, I chose MDC because professors here go above and beyond to help students who otherwise would never have been able to pursue higher education.” 

During her internship, she helped teach reading, speech and grammar classes. She also learned how to tailor course materials to students’ academic and career interests.

“I have enjoyed being here surrounded by amazing, hardworking faculty and staff as well as students from different backgrounds,” she said. “The department is like a big family.”

Legal Studies Professor Earns Second Award in Two Years

After receiving a Fulbright Scholar grant in 2013, MDC Legal Studies Professor Dr. J. Danixia Cuevas continues on an impressive path with her recent appointment as a Fulbright Specialist.

“The fact that this is my second award in two years is a tremendous honor,” Cuevas said.

Cuevas will remain on the Fulbright Specialists list for five years. During that time, any university around the world that needs her expertise can request her leadership for a short-term project lasting from 12 to 42 days.

Cuevas currently has proposed a project to The National Law University-Delhi in New Delhi, India, to train faculty across the country in the first-ever National Paralegal Training Institute.

Cuevas also is serving a three-year term as a member of the India Peer Review Committee, in which she assesses applications from potential Fulbright scholars.

“I was the only community college faculty on my review committee last year,” Cuevas said. “It was an honor to be on the panel and see the application process from the inside.”

Dominican Republic Program Created New Connections

Ever since Dr. Myra Medina served as a Fulbright Specialist in 2011, her talents have been tapped to help select future specialists for projects around the globe.

“During my tenure as a peer reviewer, I participated in two cycles of review,” the MDC professor said. “It’s demanding work, but rewarding because I feel that I’m contributing to something important related to my field of work.”

Medina is well versed in the program’s demands, having herself conducted seminars on language acquisition theories in 2011, in addition to facilitating workshops on second language methodology and best practices at the Universidad APEC School of Languages in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

“It was a marvelous and enriching experience,” Medina said.

At the School of Languages, which has one of the best programs in the country, she advised the department’s leadership on the faculty evaluation process.

“The faculty were extremely grateful to have me there,” Medina said. “I was really impressed that a cultural attaché and an academic specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo stopped by the University to meet with me.”

Following this appointment, Medina was selected as a peer reviewer for the Linguistics/TEFL Fulbright Specialist Program, funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES). In addition, she has been an evaluator of proposals for Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) workshop facilitators for the past two years.

A Global Convergence

Each summer Miami Dade College extends a warm welcome to scores of master’s and doctoral students from around the globe and prepares them for the experience of a lifetime with its Fulbright Gateway Orientation. Now in its 12th year, the program at MDC gives students the opportunity to acclimate to U.S. academic life and share their experiences before heading to universities around the nation. This year’s 70 arrivals hailed from 43 countries, represented in the map at left. 

— NN

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