Destination: Spain

When Fulbright Scholarship winner Jenna Ziegelmayer ’18 heard Spanish for the first time, it was as if a spell had been cast.

She was a little girl, a passenger on a cruise ship, vacationing with her parents. To her ears, Spanish had a pace (fast), a sound (melodious) and a fluidity (elegance) that set it apart from English. She majored in Spanish (along with communication studies and writing and rhetoric) and studied abroad in Salamanca, Spain for a summer. There each morning she awoke to nuns singing as they celebrated Catholic mass. It was a magical time and one which, in the writing of it, helped cinch her dream of returning.

In September, the Rehoboth, Mass. resident will head to Spain and IE University’s Madrid and Segovia campuses where she’ll be a classroom teaching assistant and a tutor at the language centers with two other Fulbright winners.

Many who apply for awards such as the Fulbright equate the work involved with what you would do for a college course. In Ziegelmayer’s case, it’s an apt analogy. There were many drafts of essays written, an evaluation of her proficiency in Spanish, countless emails to Kathleen Maher, director of the Office of National Fellowships & Academic Opportunities, Honors Program, three letters of recommendation from professors, and, of course, the filling out of a formidable application.

Ziegelmayer learned of her award in April while at URI’s Writing Center, where she tutored fellow students. “I feel like I still haven’t had time yet to let it all sink in,” she said. “I got the notification and thought, `Is this happening? Is this real?’”

Sometimes magic and reality are one and the same.