When Jordanian officials decided to open their country to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship program for the first time, they opted to offer only two positions. This meant that already fierce competition for the coveted Fulbright spots would be even keener. When all of the applications were sorted by both American and Jordanian representatives during the intense screening, Converse graduating senior Megan Madison ’09 was selected for one of the spots.
As courses resume for most colleges in September, Megan will check in at a yet to be determined Jordanian university to take her turn at the lectern. She will also blend with the local Jordanian communities as the public face of America; an ambassador-like role that the Fulbright organization takes very seriously and one that suits Megan just fine.
Funded by the United States State Department, the Fulbright program is the country’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The program places students in a host country to teach English and complete research projects. The host country provides the student with international travel expenses, a living stipend and in some cases, tuition assistance.
Megan will “join the ranks of distinguished participants in the Fulbright program,” wrote Shirley Green, Chair of the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. “Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs, university presidents, professors and teachers.”
For Megan, it’s the capstone for a collegiate career that began with obstacles that would have caused some students to give up just as their freshman year began.
“My father and older sister died during my freshman year. My father to multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer that affects the bones, and my sister to advanced breast cancer,” explains Megan, who was adopted as an infant by a Chester, Virginia family. "Everyone copes with loss differently. I originally came to Converse as a double performance major (piano and flute) but I pushed piano away because you often have to practice alone in a studio and you really do have to feel the music that you are playing, which can be highly emotional. I was at a point where I wanted to excel at something and not feel too much emotion. Converse was holding tryouts for its Model League team so I just threw myself into it. They wanted us to tackle issues involving Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis…people that I knew nothing about but committed myself to learning everything that I could. Professor (Joe) Dunn (faculty advisor to the Model Arab League program) has a reputation for being very demanding, so I knew that the bar for acceptanc