By Kathleen Parrish

Alex Barton ’18 has long held a passion for teaching. During her time at Lafayette she tutored school children in Easton through America Reads, worked as a writing associate, and served as a teaching assistant last summer at Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth in Baltimore.

Thanks to a Fulbright student grant, her classroom journey continues 2,500 miles from campus in Colombia, where in early August she started teaching beginner English at Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. Even though her title is teaching assistant, Barton is also responsible for a host of curricular tasks including creating lesson plans, organizing class activities, and holding workshops to augment online content. Once the semester gets going, she will lead weekly English conversation clubs on memory, feminism, and U.S. culture, topics she’s explored at Lafayette as a first-generation college graduate with majors in anthropology & sociology and psychology.

Fluent in Spanish, Barton learned to speak the language in third grade. Born in New Jersey, Barton’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from Poland in the 1980s, instilling in their children a love for learning as a pathway to independence and success.

“Education has always been of high value in my family,” says Barton, noting her sister attends University of Maryland. “I really like meeting other people and exploring new cultures.”

In addition to her teaching duties and office hours as a tutor, Barton is required to perform community service as per the grant’s mandate, and as former president of Lafayette’s ultimate Frisbee club team, she has hit the ground running. Barton wants to expand access to the sport by coordinating pick-up games for girls. It shouldn’t be too hard to create enthusiasm. Colombia is already a hotbed for the disc-gliding game and is home to one of the fastest-growing ultimate Frisbee communities in the world, says Barton.

A member of Kaleidoscope, the College’s social justice peer education group, Barton also participated in Alternative School Break, heading to Costa Rica to help save sea turtles one year and leading a group to Chicago to work with foster children the next.

Despite her impressive academic record and community involvement while on campus, Barton says she never expected to win a Fulbright.

Alex Barton '18 stands in a doorway in Colombia.

“I tried to set my expectations low,” she says. Julia Goldberg, associate dean of advising and co-curricular programs, was a constant source of support and enthusiasm, having been instrumental in encouraging her to apply.  

Barton plans to pursue a Ph.D. in either psychology or sociology, or both once the yearlong Fulbright concludes.

Goldberg’s diligence and dedication to helping students prepare applications for prestigious scholarships and fellowships has earned the College new distinction. Earlier this year, Lafayette was named a Fulbright Top-Producing Institution for the fourth time. Fulbright began issuing the status in 2009-10.

For information on campus application procedures, visit the Scholarships and Fellowships website. The Fulbright 2019-20 application season opens in April.

Categorized in: Academic News, Anthropology and Sociology, Featured News, News and Features, Psychology, Spanish, Student Profiles, Students
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