Campus: Fullerton -- May 26, 2006

Grad Student Heading to Chile as Fulbright Scholar

Andrea C. Cano, a Cal State Fullerton graduate student earning her master's degree in education with a concentration in teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL), has been awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English in Chile next spring.

English was not the first language of the 29-year-old Seal Beach resident, who will take part in commencement ceremonies Sunday, having earned a 4.0 grade point average. Spanish was her first language because her father, of Argentine descent, and mother, of Mexican descent, spoke to her in that language. Still, she learned English fast while growing up in Westwood and Seal Beach.

In fact, Cano said, "I quickly forgot all my Spanish skills until I turned 15."

That's when she participated in a foreign exchange program that sent her to Argentina to live and attend high school for a year.

"I took all my academic courses in Spanish, even statistics, and it was a fabulous, fabulous experience," Cano said. While she was a student at UC Berkeley, she participated in another education abroad program, this time spending eight months in Brazil, where she learned Portuguese. She also took classes in Madrid and traveled to Portugal, Italy and Japan. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and Portuguese, she enrolled at CSUF. During her time as a grad student, Cano has been a member of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures honor society and worked with older adults, improving their language skills and preparing them for naturalization through a program called Project SHINE (Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders).

She worked as a graduate assistant with the English and Comparative Literature Department, serving as tutor and classroom teacher in developmental writing and English Composition classes. She also conducted workshops for university students in the writing center and presented several papers at professional conferences. She served as a student officer in the TESOL Club and recently was awarded the Academic Senate Service Award, which includes a $2,000 check. "As a teacher, Andrea is insightful about language learning and language teaching, in part because she is able to draw upon her own considerable experience as a second language learner," said Cheryl Boyd Zimmerman, assistant professor of modern languages and literatures.

"My decision to be an English as a second language [ESL] teacher came as I started thinking about what my strengths are," Cano said. "It's so satisfying to me when my students use verbs correctly. I am really looking forward to teaching immigrants English. I really enjoy and admire and respect those who come to this country for a better life and to better themselves and are working very hard to learn English, which is a very hard thing to learn."

She said her goal is to become a community college ESL teacher. But first, she will be teaching a three-week English class at Cal State Fullerton to students who will be coming from Brazil in July. From March through December in 2007, she will be teaching at a university in Chile as a Fulbright scholar.

Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, chief executive officers, university presidents, journalists, artists, professors and teachers.

In a congratulatory letter to Cano from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, Steven J. Uhlfelder, chair of the board, wrote: "Fulbrighters enrich the educational, political, economic, social and cultural lives of countries around the world. As a representative of your country in Chile, you will help fulfill the principal purpose of the program to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of 150 or so countries that currently participate."

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State oversees the Fulbright program, which awards grants to Americans and nationals of other countries for a variety of educational activities, such as university teaching and research. Since the program's inception in 1946, more than 265,000 people, chosen for their leadership potential, have participated. Thirty-five Fulbright scholars have been awarded the Nobel Prize.

Cheryl Boyd Zimmerman, Modern Languages and Literatures, (714) 278-4186 or
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs, (714) 278-7586 or

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