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Allyson Butz ’20 was recently named Lebanon Valley College’s 11th student to receive a Fulbright award in the past five years. Butz was selected to receive a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Germany for the 2020–21 academic year.
Butz, an elementary education major with minors in German and global studies, previously studied in Germany through the College’s Zerbe Summer Study Abroad Scholarship. She recently took some time to answer a few questions for her alma mater.
I chose LVC because of the small campus and community feeling. I enrolled as an undecided major but knew the College checked off so many boxes by offering programs and activities that interested me.
LVC was not on my original list since my parents are alumni. But, I am so glad that I reconsidered. LVC provided me so many memories and always felt like home!
How did you decide on education?
I always knew I wanted to help children, but wasn’t sure in what field so started as an undecided major. However, once I figured things out and decided on early childhood education, I knew it was the right choice. Then, I decided to add minors in German and global studies because of my interest in those areas.
Which faculty inspired you?
There are so many inspiring faculty at LVC! I would say that Dr. [Joerg] Meindl [associate professor of German and global studies] and Dr. [Rick] Chamberlin [associate professor of French, German, and global studies] were always super helpful with German-related questions, studying abroad, and anything else. Dr. [Jeff] Robbins [professor of religion], was my First-Year Experience professor. He pushed me to improve and expand my writing, which helped me throughout college. He is awesome!
And, all the professors in the Education Department are amazing. If I had to choose only one, I would note Professor [Jennifer] Kuntz [assistant professor of education]. Her passion for teaching is evident in all her classes, and you know she puts in as much work every day as her students do. She cares about all of us and is an excellent example for future educators.
What activities were you part of at LVC?
I was very involved with spiritual life, including DiscipleMakers and Let’s Be Real. It was amazing to see these communities grow and change during my four years; the Lord’s work is so encouraging! I also was involved with planning and volunteering for the International Food Festival. Through my major, I was active in the Student Pennsylvania State Education Association, including helping plan Children’s Day activities at LVC in 2019. That was so much fun! I enjoyed music as well, participating with the Pride of The Valley Marching Band and choir, and taking piano lessons.
In addition to spiritual life, what other opportunities did you enjoy as part of the LVC experience?
I studied in Würzburg, Germany, in summer 2018 with assistance from the College’s Zerbe Summer Study Abroad Scholarship. Studying Germany was so rewarding, and I grew so much and learned more about the country’s culture, language, and life.
Additionally, I was a Peer Tutor and Study Pod leader in Elementary Statistics and German. I worked in the June Herr Resource Center, which is full of resources for education majors. Finally, I was very involved in community service, even earning the College’s highest service honor, the Gold Community Service Award. I am so grateful to Jen Liedtka ’92, M’00, LVC service and volunteerism coordinator, for all the opportunities to serve on campus, at nursing homes, the Caring Cupboard, and so much more. Community service is extremely important to me; I can’t wait to carry this passion throughout my life!
How were your teaching placements?
All my teaching placements were great, and I really appreciated how the LVC Education Program places us in schools every semester to gain experience and student teach in multiple environments.
In particular, my student teaching placement at West Hanover Elementary School was the most important; it solidified that I was on the right career path. I’ve always been thoughtful and hesitant to speak, so getting the opportunity to teach all day for nearly a month was encouraging and showed me that I can be a teacher. So, all these placements helped me grow in my abilities as a future teacher.
In light of COVID-19, what’s going on with your Fulbright plans?
I’m hoping to hear additional news soon but for now the Fulbright Commission is not allowing English Teaching Assistants to start until at least Jan. 1, 2021, contingent on the health situation in the U.S. and Germany. Also, as a result of this uncertainty, I have not received information about where I will be placed, but hope to learn that soon. There are many unknowns, so it is challenging to make plans. However, I am very honored and grateful for this opportunity and possible adventure to learn more about Germany and its people, especially its students.
Any closing thoughts?
I want to thank Dr. Philip Benesch, associate professor of political science and director of external scholarships and fellowships, who encouraged me and showed me I was qualified to apply for this grant. So many of my fellow students are unaware that they may be qualified to apply for Fulbrights or many other programs so please reach out to Dr. Benesch.
I also want to thank the aforementioned Drs. Chamberlin and Meindl, and some of my education faculty, including Dr. Jennifer Kanupka and Professor Linda Summers for supporting me through this process. Also, thanks to my other professors, family, and friends for their never-ending support!