/stories/2019/01/an-appetite-for-language-and-travel

An appetite for language and travel

Jeffrey Stewart, a Frost School of Music alumnus, visits campus during a short break in between two Fulbright grants he has earned to teach English in Brazil.
By Janette Neuwahl Tannen

Jeffrey Stewart, a Frost School of Music alumnus, visits campus during a short break in between two Fulbright grants he has earned to teach English in Brazil.

An appetite for language and travel

By Janette Neuwahl Tannen
Hurricanes can apply for a host of scholarships and fellowships this spring that can take them around the world.

When Jeffrey Stewart transferred to the University of Miami, he came to hone his tuba skills, but he also wanted to learn more languages.

Between practice and rehearsal time, it had been tough to schedule electives, but he saw some opportunities during his junior year.

“UM gave me a chance to explore and that has brought me to where I am today,” said Stewart, who transferred from Ithaca College and graduated in 2017 from the Frost School of Music.

Today, his fervor for music has been complemented by a penchant for languages and immersing himself in new cultures. Stewart can now speak five languages at a “respectable level,” and he is hoping to double that number. He is currently living in Salvador, Brazil on his second Fulbright grant where he is teaching English to college students. He spent the past year in a tiny northeastern city called Campina Grande.  And instead of working as an orchestral musician, Stewart now wants to become an interpreter.

“The experience in Brazil has been unmatched to anything I’ve experienced in my short 23 years,” he said, reflecting on his time in Campina Grande. “The best part has been the social and cultural interaction. It was very authentic in such a small city.” 

Jeffrey Stewart
Stewart visits Copacabana Beach in Brazil.

While at UM, Stewart took classes in Chinese, French and Arabic, as well as through the U’s Directed Independent Language Study program. The summer after his junior year, Stewart earned a scholarship to attend the Middlebury Summer Language Institute where he could only speak Mandarin Chinese for two months. Just before graduation, he applied for a Fulbright to teach English abroad. He did not get his choice placement in Jordan to improve his Arabic, but embarked upon a trip to the Middle East anyway.

Stewart spent three months in Cairo, Egypt refining his Arabic. It was in Egypt when he received an e-mail offering him a grant for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to teach in Brazil for a year. He was not familiar with Brazil’s native tongue of Portuguese, but Stewart studied for a few months and left. He did so well that Stewart was offered a second Fulbright for this year. Receiving two Fulbrights is an extremely rare honor, said April Dobbins, UM’s director of prestigious awards and fellowships.

“I’ve not heard of that happening for a student before—it’s very uncommon,” Dobbins said.

Yet, Dobbins acknowledged that the organization likely noticed Stewart’s easygoing nature, as well as his aptitude for languages.  

“Not only does he have the skill for languages, but he is dedicated to learning more,” Dobbins said. “Jeffrey also has a flexibility in terms of being in a foreign environment and being able to adapt, which is important for a Fulbright. And he has a genuine curiosity about the culture in which he is immersed.”

Stewart is just one of the lucky handful that are chosen each year from University of Miami for a Fulbright grant, a highly selective national award that funds a research journey or English teaching venture in a foreign country. It is one of dozens of scholarships and fellowships available to undergraduate and graduate students through the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships.

Other scholarships and awards available for students to apply for this spring include:

  • DAAD German Academic Exchange (DAAD): Provides a year of independent study at a German university to complete a postgraduate degree or a master’s degree and/or a research internship in the sciences or engineering. Deadlines from mid- to late- January 2019.
  • Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship: Recognizes outstanding students studying in fields that support the mission of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Deadline: January 31, 2019.
  • Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program: A six-week summer program for undergraduate students to foster an appreciation of issues and trends in international affairs. Deadline: February 5, 2019.
  • Fulbright US-UK Summer Institutes: Three-to-four week programs for U.S. undergraduate students who are first- or second-years. Deadline: February 6, 2019. Full application and guidelines are available at http://www.fulbright.org.uk/going-to-the-uk/uk-summer-institutes.
  • Academic Enhancement Research Fellowships: provide funding to allow students to pursue activities to enhance their undergraduate experience outside of a traditional classroom setting. Deadline for Summer 2019 and Fall 2019 projects: March 1, 2019.
  • Plus One Scholarship: Offers UM undergraduates a tuition-free year or semester to broaden and expand their learning for enrichment purposes. Deadlines: March 1, 2019 in the Spring semester and October 1, 2019 in the Fall semester.
  • Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship: A grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad. Deadline: March 5, 2019.
  • Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund: Need-based scholarships for students able to do academic work at the college or university level or are enrolled in a trade or technical program and who are active in a progressive movement. Deadline: April 1, 2019.
  • Fulbright U.S. Student Program: Provides grants for individually designed research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. Open to recent graduates, master’s and doctoral candidates, and young professionals. Applications open in April and close by the campus deadline of August 17 each year.  

In addition, the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships offers information sessions throughout the spring about the full range of awards and fellowships available. The next few information sessions will be:

  • Feb. 22 at 10 a.m. in the Office of Academic Enhancement, Pentland House Suite 130 (across the street from the Wellness Center).
  • April 4 at 1 p.m. in Dooley Memorial, room 125

Stanford Knight Hennessy Scholarship information session:

  • Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. in the Shalala Student Center Vista Room

Fulbright Award information sessions:

  • Feb. 11 at 6 p.m. in Richter Library Learning Commons (first floor)
  • March 4 at 1 p.m. in Richter Library Learning Commons (first floor)
  • April 9 at 5:30 p.m. in Whitten Learning Center, room 170

 For more information, visit the website for the Office of Prestigious Awards and Fellowships.