Sally Simpson ’21 of Rockville, Md., and Cassandra Winkelman ’21 of Wellesley, Mass., have been awarded prestigious Fulbright grants to teach English in Europe. Simpson will spend the 2021-22 academic year in Austria; Winkelman will be based in Germany.

Simpson initially began studying German to fulfill Colby’s language requirement. “I quickly came to love the community within the German Department, the challenge of learning a new language, and the interdisciplinary nature of German studies,” she said. This led her to pursue a German studies major with a double minor in music and chemistry. An internship with a pediatric psychologist, assisting with research on high school transition, sparked Simpson’s interest in teaching.

The fact that I have gone from German 125 to the Austria English teaching assistantship in four years’ time is just as much a testament to the strength of the department and professors here”—who, she said, guided her throughout her Colby career. 

Sally Simpson ’21 (Photo by Jasper Lowe)

“I applied for this fellowship because it is an incredible opportunity to obtain work experience in the field I’m interested in and live abroad again,” she said. In Linz, a major city in northern Austria, she will work as an English teaching assistant in two schools, HTL1 Bau und Design Linz and the Linzer Technikum.  

Simpson was also selected as an alternate for a Fulbright fellowship in Germany, where she studied abroad her junior year. She decided, however, to experience life in another German-speaking country. In Austria, she hopes to continue building on her German skills, absorb the country’s culture, and learn from her mentor-teacher to develop her own teaching skills.

After the fellowship, Simpson will pursue a Ph.D. in German at Georgetown University. “This opportunity to live and teach English abroad will especially help me hone my language and teaching skills before I embark on my graduate studies.”  

Winkelman, a German studies and French studies double major with an education: professional certification minor, started studying German in seventh grade to learn about her roots. But over the years, she began learning other languages too—French, Latin, and Swedish—developing a passion for languages as well as second-language pedagogy, the study of how second languages are taught and learned.

“The Fulbright program has been on my radar for a few years now, as it combines two things I’m very passionate about: languages and teaching,” said Winkelman. In her preparations to apply for the fellowship, she accumulated a wealth of experiences. She gave private German lessons and worked as a teaching assistant at the German Department. As a junior, she studied abroad in Nantes, France, where she taught English at a French middle school. Back on Mayflower Hill, she became a learning assistant for Associate Professor of French Audrey Brunetaux’s French Theater Workshop. She’s also taught French at Waterville High School while working to get her Maine teaching certification.

Cassandra Winkelman ’21 (Photo by Jasper Lowe)

“I’m excited to be a member of the Fulbright community for life, helping to enrich and promote foreign language learning and teaching,” she said. Although details are yet to be determined, she will work as an English teaching assistant in Germany, where she always dreamed of living. “I’ll have the opportunity to spend a long time in Germany, both working on my teaching skills as well as improving my knowledge of the German language and culture.”

Once the fellowship is over, Winkelman will return to the master’s program in German from Middlebury College she started while at Colby, and she hopes to continue teaching German and French for a few more years. But in the long run, she aspires to enroll in a Ph.D. program in second language pedagogy and acquisition.

“My dream is to teach German and French at the university level and research instructional strategies regarding foreign language instruction,” she said. On that path, her Fulbright will provide invaluable experiences. 

“I’m very grateful for all the teaching opportunities I’ve received at Colby and that these experiences have all culminated in this Fulbright award.”