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RWHS alumnus awarded Fulbright Scholarship

Fulbright Scholarship recipient Joel Newman student-teaches a Spanish class at a Wisconsin middle school. (photo courtesy UW-Eau Claire)

Teaching is in Joel Newman's blood. The 2012 Red Wing High School graduate comes from a household of two career Red Wing teachers, Neal and Kim Newman.

This October, the recent Spanish education major graduate at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire learned he would be receiving a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Uruguay for eight months, beginning in March 2017.

"It is such a great honor," Newman said of being awarded the prestigious scholarship.

According to information from UW-Eau Claire, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program of the United States, and recipients represent the U.S. as cultural ambassadors while they are overseas, helping to enhance mutual understanding between Americans and the people in their host country.

While planning his collegiate career, Newman said becoming fluent in Spanish was a goal of his.

"I knew knowing Spanish would be very valuable," Newman said. "You can work in just about any field speaking a second language."

Studying abroad in Costa Rica during his sophomore year at UW-Eau Claire served as an influential catalyst toward his career path in Spanish education, he said.

"I had an incredible experience at UWEC with my professors, but studying abroad in Costa Rica really made it clear for me," Newman said. "To be able to use my Spanish in everyday life with native speakers was such a learning experience."

Newman said he is still close with his host family, even hosting them at his home in Red Wing. "The relationships I have formed from speaking a second language are very influential for me," he said.

Newman said the application process was rather labor intensive. "My professors read through many drafts for me and were very helpful," he said.

The Fulbright is the single largest U.S. exchange program, with a focus on building international understanding through individual interaction. According to UW-Eau Claire, the first Blugold recipient was in 1972. Newman is the 33rd Blugold to be awarded a Fulbright.