Katyi McCarthy, Class of 2007
Education Major/German Minor
After studying in Lutherstadt, Wittenberg, in Germany the summer after her freshmen year, Katyi McCarthy held tight to the dream of returning to Europe after graduation to teach. She was warned that it would be extremely competitive to receive admission through the Fulbright Commission in Austria, but she figured she had nothing to lose.
“I looked at it as if I was applying to a prestigious place like Harvard,” McCarthy said. “If I got accepted, great. If not, oh well, at least I could say that I tried, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world.”
In April, she received an e-mail informing her that she had been accepted.
“Then, it was a relatively easy decision,” she said. “I couldn’t let an opportunity like this pass me by – I’m young, I have no real commitments, there’s nothing holding me back.”
Leaving for her orientation in September, McCarthy will teach English as a second language in the small town of Gmunden, Austria. Just as importantly, the purpose of a United States Teaching Assistant is to share her American experience, which she said gives the students a more hands-on education in the American culture.
She credits Wittenberg with providing a supportive environment and preparing her for this new position and life after college.
“Witt has prepared me for teaching abroad by helping me to discover who I am – my identity – and to feel completely confident and comfortable within that identity,” she said. “Witt has also shown me that I can do anything.
“The professors have passed their knowledge on to us, and now it’s our job to light the world. Teaching is living Witt’s motto, and now I’ve been given the opportunity to pass it on to Austria. So, in a sense, it isn’t just a motto, it’s a way of life.”
September can’t come soon enough for an eager McCarthy.
“I’m excited about the experience as a whole, it’ll be great to be back in Europe – just being in Austria – all of the history will be amazing!” she said. “I’m excited to go somewhere new, meet new people and see where the next chapter in my life takes me.”
While McCarthy hopes to benefit from such a unique experience, she also wants to contribute her own talents.
“I feel as though I have gained a great deal from traveling abroad,” she said. “I want to be able to give back by sharing my American experience, opening their minds and demonstrating a genuine representation of Americans, our ideals and morals.”