Senior Kathryn Willgus wins Fulbright Award

By Lam Ho


Kathryn Willgus (C’16) recently received the Fulbright Scholarship for an English Teaching Assistantship in Russia. This marks the seventh consecutive year that the Russian Department’s students have travelled on Fulbright grants.

“I was really inspired to apply for the Fulbright after I traveled abroad,” said Willgus. “I had seen other students before me receive the grant and have an amazing time in Russia, but I needed to experience the country myself before I understood what a great opportunity this was.” She explained that the application process for a Fulbright can be long and often frustrating, but certainly worth the effort.

During her time as a Fulbright Scholar, Willgus will also complete a small side project. “I love art, especially photography, but haven’t had as much opportunity to explore and create during my time at Sewanee, so I hope to be able to incorporate that into my project,” Willgus explained. “I am most looking forward to being sent somewhere new—I loved my experience in St. Petersburg, but I’m also excited to explore the less well-known parts of Russia.”

She mentioned that her time studying abroad in Russia convinced her to pursue the Fulbright. “My time abroad was an amazing experience where I was able to learn so much more about a culture that I love and I learned that I am capable of adapting to environments, which helped me in deciding that I wanted to receive a Fulbright,” Willgus said.

However, Willgus found the experience of applying somewhat frustrating. She explained, “There are so many steps involved that I started my application in the summer. By far, the most difficult aspect was interviewing with the Committee in Moscow in Russian. I felt great afterwards, though, because I knew I could speak Russian relatively well for twelve minutes straight!”

Dr. Elizabeth Skomp, Willgus’s advisor, says, “My colleagues in the Russian Department and I are deeply proud of Kathryn’s achievement. As she joins the ranks of Sewanee’s Russian Fulbrighters, I know that an unforgettable year of teaching and learning awaits her when she returns to Russia.”

For her part, Willgus wanted to thank several people for helping her reach this accomplishment. “[Thank you to] my professors Mark Preslar, Elizabeth Skomp, and Yuliya Ladygina for teaching me so much about this beautiful language and culture; Hanna Miller and other Fulbright awardees before me who inspired me to reach for the stars; My amazingly supportive friends Taylor Yost, Rachel Chu, Jan DeLozier, and Sarah Flowers, just to name a few, who helped me along with kind words and understanding; and, perhaps most of all, my Resident Director, Nathan Cox, and my professors from my time abroad for holding my hand through my adaptation to Russian culture and allowing me to grow without letting me fall.”