W&J Alumna Awarded Fellowships With Three Prestigious International Programs

Created: August 27, 2015
Last Updated: January 16, 2020

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WASHINGTON PA (August 27, 2015) – How do you choose between three dream jobs? For Washington and Jefferson College (W&J) alumna Heather Painter ’13, having to make the choice itself was a dream come true.

Painter, who recently finished a two-year appointment with Teach for America, is now in Cologne, Germany participating in research for Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) for Young Professionals Program. The opportunity was one of three – including a Fulbright Award and an international teaching assistantship – she received as her time with Teach for America drew to a close.

Choosing between three highly sought-after positions was a difficult decision for Painter. In addition to CBYX, Painter was also offered a U.S. Teaching Assistantship to Austria and a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany. However, CBYX proved to be the most beneficial choice for Painter’s future.

With CBYX, Painter is able to submerge herself in a new culture while taking master-level courses in public policy and interning for the Center for Applied Politics. At the Center, Painter said, she will be able to work against racism and political extremism, both areas where she hopes she can make an impact.

“This year will further cement my German language abilities, expand my professional network, provide a sound theoretical basis for the career in public policy and education policy I aspire to have through university coursework, and allow me to bring research back to the U.S. that will hopefully help children and people be more tolerant of one another,” she said.

Teach for America placed Painter in Arkansas at KIPP Delta Elementary Literacy Academy, a charter school that focuses both on core school subjects and also on teaching their students life skills and character traits. Painter said this opened her eyes to what it means to be a teacher, and has also impacted her time in Germany.

“I know now that teachers also teach students how to solve conflicts, how to fail and keep trying, how to be empathetic, and joyful, and curious, and so much more. This ‘noncognitive’ side of education captured my interest, and is something I will continue to research this year in Germany,” said Painter.

Painter is very thankful for the opportunities she has had since graduating from W&J. There were many staff members and faculty who helped her with post-graduation life, she said.

“W&J professors and staff wrote my recommendations, helped me prepare for the interviews, gave me their perspectives when I had to make a difficult choice between the three options, and I am so indebted to and grateful to the college for helping me get to where I am now,” said Painter.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work.

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