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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

SU Alumna Earns Fulbright English Teaching Grant to South Korea

Payge JenningsSALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University alumna Payge Jennings thinks knowing how to speak Korean will “come right back” to her when she returns to South Korea this summer. Her job, however, will be teaching the English language to students.

Jennings ’14 earned a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant to travel to the East Asian country for the 2016-17 academic year. The U.S. Department of State exchange program places recipients in schools overseas to supplement English language instruction and provide a native speaker in classrooms.

A communication arts major and East Asian studies minor, Jennings first traveled to South Korea in 2012-13 to study at the Sungkyun Language Institute. She had wanted to learn Korean since high school, where she had Korean friends.

“The culture just seemed so different and I was intrigued,” she said.

Since graduating from SU, Jennings has been working as a program assistant in Howard Community College’s English Language Center.  She also teaches English to refugees through an International Rescue Committee-funded program at Prince George’s Community College.

“Payge is a tenacious young woman,” said Dr. Kristen Walton, director of SU’s Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office.  “She truly demonstrated her strength of character, and her passion for Korea and her future career in international education.  The Fulbright looks at a student’s commitment to serve as a cultural ambassador to their chosen country. Payge will be a wonderful representative of SU and the United States.”

The Fulbright will provide Jennings with teacher training, including a six-week certification course.  She also will gain experience with English camps and classroom visits before receiving a specific placement within the country.  She hopes to teach middle or high school students.  She also wants to get involved in the community by working with older Koreans or with North Korean defectors, as this relates to her work with non-traditional students and refugees at the community colleges.   

Her Fulbright, renewable for up to three years, is valued at over $20,000, along with housing, transportation and other costs.  

“I’m looking forward to experiencing Korean daily life,” she said. “I experienced college life, but now I want to engage in the culture more.”  She expects it to be transformative, much like her first visit drastically changed her as a student.

At SU, Jennings worked for the Center for International Education, serving as a liaison to some 80 South Korean students who came to study on campus. She spent one summer break in Taiwan immersed in language classes. She was a Global Ambassador who educated other SU students about going abroad. She also started the International Gulls Club to help foreign students meet each other.

“SU has gotten so diverse over the years and I’m so proud,” she said.  “As soon as I came here, I was like ‘Yes, this is where I need to be.’”

Dr. Brian Stiegler, assistant provost for international education, described her as a “committed global scholar.” He added: “The year she spent studying in South Korea and her tireless work in support of Korean students on SU’s campus when she returned helped prepare her for the successes she has had since graduation. Her Fulbright is a culmination of her commitment to international education.” 

An Annapolis native who graduated from Old Mill High School in 2010, Jennings is SU’s second ETA recipient. Alumna Emily Lembo ’14 earned one right after she graduated and still remains in South Korea today.

Other SU recipients include Charles Overholt, who, in 2012-13 became the University’s first graduate student to earn a Fulbright; he studied and researched in Marburg, Germany. Alumnus Stephen Reilly ’95, founder of Global Experiences, Inc., also earned a Fulbright to study international relations in Sweden after he graduated.  In addition, SU has a long history of some 20 faculty Fulbright Scholars, and was spotlighted in The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright Scholars for 2015-16.

If other students or alumni are interested in applying for the Fulbright or other fellowships, contact Walton at  For more information about Jennings’ award, call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at    

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