Shippensburg University is pleased to announce that Erika Otthofer ‘20 is a Fulbright Finalist in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) for the 2022-2023 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

In March 2023 Otthofer will head to Argentina where she will assist with mentoring and instructing English teachers-in-training at a regional university.

“It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in Argentina for nearly a year. I look forward to experiencing Latin American culture firsthand, sharing cross-cultural connections with a host community, and collaborating with Argentinian scholars who have a passion for teaching English. I cannot wait for my grant to begin,” said Otthofer.

Otthofer, an international studies and political science major with concentrations in international politics and Latin American Studies, felt prepared to pursue this opportunity after an unexpected internship.

Her plans to study abroad in Uruguay in fall 2020 were upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Jonathan Skaff, professor and director of the international studies program, encouraged her to take on a virtual internship as an alternative way to apply her cultural competency skills and knowledge of Latin America. She took the advice and became a virtual volunteer adult English as a second language instructor for CIANA, a non-profit organization in Queens, NY.

“My internship opened my eyes to working with adult Latin American immigrants who were seeking support with assimilating into American culture and learning English as a second language. I gained valuable experience and cultural perspectives that I have taken with me into my current roles in adult education. Without this internship through my program, I wouldn’t have found my passion for teaching English as a Second Language to adult learners,” she said.

She also credits her course work, participation in the Washington Model of American States (WMOAS) conferences and the mentorship of Skaff and Dr. Gretchen Pierce, associate professor of history, for preparing her for this moment. Otthofer is also an alumna of the Wood Honors College.

She’s excited to get to work, but even more excited to create connections and experiences she said will be a dream come true.

“I am most excited about immersing into Argetinian culture, expanding my Spanish language skills, and meeting new people! I’ve had a great fascination with Argentina’s history, food, music, dance, and people for a while,” she added.

Otthofer is Ship’s seventh student/alumna to receive a Fulbright through the US Student Program since 2013. The university also boasts 20 Fulbright Scholars, making Ship the State System leader in Fulbright grants.