Marist Fulbright Winners Will Teach English in Malaysia, Indonesia
April 16, 2019—Congratulations to Teresa Cimino ’19 and Daniel Knoll ’19, each of whom has been awarded a nationally competitive Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA), the latest in a long line of Marist students to receive this prestigious fellowship. The graduating seniors will teach English in Malaysia and Indonesia, respectively. Cimino is a fashion merchandising major (with minors in Global Studies and journalism) from Encinitas, California, while Knoll is a history/adolescent education major from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.
The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is designed to build lasting connections between Americans and people of other nations. The program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright has given more than 380,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, professionals, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 82 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.
In recent years, Marist has had tremendous success with this award, with 26 students and recent alumni receiving the Fulbright in the last 15 years. This is perhaps no surprise, since a central part of the Marist educational experience is study and research abroad; indeed, more than 50 percent of Marist students study abroad during their time at the College. The cultural exploration associated with study abroad has helped many students gain a more expansive view of the world, making them more competitive for the Fulbright and other distinguished fellowships.
Cimino already has considerable international service work under her belt, so teaching English in Malaysia is a logical next step. Beginning with a summer trip to Chile while she was in high school, she has devoted virtually every summer since to volunteer work, including a stint at an elephant sanctuary in Laos. She originally wanted to be a veterinarian, and at the sanctuary she learned how issues like tourism and deforestation can be harmful to the elephants’ well-being. Says Cimino, “I really wanted to go back to Southeast Asia because I love the region – the nature, the animals, the national parks – so this Fulbright really combines my interest in both service and international travel. It feels like years of hard work coming to fruition.” In Malaysia, she will be assigned to a secondary school, and there will be ample opportunity to get involved in after-school programs and community partnerships. For example, she is considering volunteering at an orphanage there. Prior to her departure, Cimino will also take a crash course in the Malay language to gain a working knowledge. She adds, “I don’t start my assignment until January, so I hope to do a fair amount of travel both before and during my Fulbright.”
Growing up in the San Diego area, Cimino knew she wanted to study fashion in New York, and she was attracted to both the Marist campus and the opportunity to dive into the liberal arts and explore a broader curriculum. She notes, “I’ve grown extremely interested in sustainability, so I’ve been able to take classes in areas like environmental science and global studies. I’ve been very involved in the Fashion Program’s ethical fashion initiative, as well as Habitat for Humanity and SEED (Students Encouraging Environmental Dedication).” As part of her major, Cimino completed five internships through Marist in Manhattan, as well as a summer internship with Toms Shoes in Venice Beach, California, but she has also indulged her “passion for tutoring and children” by becoming an active Campus Ministry volunteer. She notes, “I’ve discovered that I love working directly with people and would eventually love to work in education or for a non-profit, or even environmental law.”
After her Fulbright year, Cimino will have additional opportunities to mentor young people when she begins a two-year commitment as a special education teacher for Teach for America in San Francisco. During her time with Teach for America, she will also have the chance to earn her master’s degree in teaching. In whatever career Cimino ends up pursuing, there is no doubt that she will strive to have a positive impact on the world around us.
Knoll is likewise thrilled about his Fulbright opportunity, particularly since he wants to be a teacher. As he sees it, “This Fulbright means a whole new path for my future and where I will ultimately go. With this experience, there are many paths I can take now and many doors that will open.” A Boy Scout his entire life, Knoll is also deeply committed to service and working with children, having spent many summers as aquatic director at a Scout camp, as well as teaching Scouts with autism how to swim. In fact, swimming is a passion in Knoll’s life, and he credits the sport with teaching him the values of patience, dedication, and hard work. Describing it as the “defining part of my Marist experience,” Knoll has been a standout on the College’s swimming and diving team; he is a six-time record holder and the recipient of an MVP award.
There were many factors that went into Knoll’s decision to pursue a Fulbright in Indonesia. One of the biggest reasons he chose Indonesia is because it is so culturally distinct from the United States. Says Knoll, “Most Americans don’t know much about Indonesia, but it’s the fourth biggest nation in the world in terms of population, the largest Muslim country, the seventh biggest economy, and it has been growing in global importance.” He is also intrigued by the tremendous diversity to be found there. While Bahasa Indonesian is the official language, there are more than 300 native languages spoken in the archipelago of 17,508 islands. Knoll notes that “Indonesia provides the most opportunity to absorb different cultural experiences because each island is totally distinct. In addition, Indonesia has a Dutch colonial past, so I think it will be really interesting to spend time in a country that developed outside of the British Empire.” Before his departure, Knoll will begin exploring Indonesia by taking a 120-hour online class in Bahasa Indonesian.
While Knoll has yet learned where he will be assigned – it could be any part of Indonesia and any type of school – he does know that he will spend five hours a day teaching and will also participate in two community service projects. In particular, he would like to get involved in Indonesia’s scouting program and also sees an opportunity to be an instructor for the national swim program. Says Knoll, “It will be interesting to see how the Boy Scouts operate in such a different country. Also, I’m really excited about the opportunity to spend time outdoors in Indonesia and experience all of its natural beauty.” And like Cimino, Knoll plans to do some traveling in the region. In fact, he has a sister living in Sydney, Australia and plans to spend Christmas there. After Fulbright, Knoll feels fairly certain of his path: “I’ll spend probably seven to 10 years teaching, move into administration, get involved in the school board, and then see where I go. Education is a great way to get into politics.”
Cimino and Knoll will be among more than 1,900 US citizens who will conduct research, teach English, and provide expertise abroad for the 2018-2019 academic year through the Fulbright US Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.