After graduating in December 2020 with dual degrees in Spanish and Arts and Humanities, alumna Emily Van Dyke-Mathews has accepted a Fulbright English Language Teaching Assistantship in Asturias, Spain, that will begin in fall 2021.
During the 9-month assistantship, Van Dyke-Mathews will teach English to primary and secondary students in Spain. She also will serve as a cultural ambassador for the United States and complete an independent project for her host community.
For her independent project, Van Dyke-Mathews will help the youth in the community to develop artistic projects that involve their cultural and personal experiences. These projects will be showcased to the community.
“I’m most excited about the Fulbright scholarship because I’ll be able to continue building skills as an educator,” she said. “I really am passionate about language learning, so being able to share that with the students and help them become passionate about that as well is exciting.”
This won’t be Van Dyke-Mathew’s first time visiting Spain. As an incoming first-year student at MSU, she participated in a seminar abroad in Barcelona, Spain, where she learned about the city and Spanish culture.
I’m most excited about the Fulbright scholarship because I’ll be able to continue building skills as an educator. I really am passionate about language learning, so being able to share that with the students and help them become passionate about that as well is exciting.
She also studied abroad in Ecuador in 2018, where she worked as a Summer Camp Leader, Preschool Teacher Aide, and Elementary Tutor for Centro Integral de la Niñez y Adolescencia. These experiences opened new possibilities for her career trajectory and catalyzed her decision to pick up minors in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
Van Dyke-Mathews has been learning the Spanish language since she was in kindergarten thanks to her enrollment in a Spanish-immersion school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where, from kindergarten until 5th grade, all her core classes were taught in Spanish, which sparked an interest in the language at a young age.
“I have been studying Spanish for a long time, so I knew I was going to major in Spanish, at least I had that path sorted out before college,” she said. “And, I always had the idea that I might work with youth, but I wasn’t certain about my exact path.”
Her long-time involvement with the Spanish language was an asset as she worked in various English teaching environments during her time at MSU. She worked as an English and Conversation Partner for visiting scholars through MSU’s Volunteer English Tutoring Program. She also worked as an English as a Second Language Teacher for English Partners in Communication and with the Lansing Refugee Center and Everett High School’s Latino Club.
I took so many opportunities that MSU offered, which really set me up to get me where I am now. My advice to other students would be to take advantage of all of the opportunities that MSU offers.
Since January 2021, she has worked as an Online ESL Teacher for students in China through QKids, an online education platform that connects international language learners ages 4-12 with educators and tutors.
With a solid foundation of English teaching experiences to draw upon, Van Dyke-Mathews visualizes a future where she can continue to teach English abroad or work with refugee and immigrant populations to equip them with English language skills and resources to adapt to the United States.
“I took so many opportunities that MSU offered, which really set me up to get me where I am now,” she said. “My advice to other students would be to take advantage of all of the opportunities that MSU offers. If you can engage in a study abroad program or volunteer programs within the community, that is a helpful way to learn what it is you enjoy doing and to also have an experience that employers really value.”