Those who know senior Alexandra Koch were not surprised when the Fulbright Association awarded her a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Germany this spring. A German and Politics double major, Koch is not only an accomplished student but also an active leader in the UD community and beyond.
Koch was the only student to win a prestigious international scholarship this year, but other students advanced far in other academic competitions, said Provost Dr. Jonathan Sanford.
A committee of UD professors recommended Koch to the Fulbright Association. She is the 39th UD student to receive a Fulbright grant, according to the University of Dallas website. The Fulbright Program gives excellent students who demonstrate significant community involvement the chance to teach abroad on a stipend, according to the Fulbright website.
Koch said she will work as an English teaching assistant and as a kind of ambassador to Germany from this September to next June at a high school in the Rhineland Pfalz, her province of choice in southwest Germany.
Koch said that although the award is a teaching fellowship, she will actually only spend 12 hours a week in the classroom.
“My main job is to be a representative of the United States,” Koch said. “It’s a kind of bridge-building program that is meant to encourage transatlantic friendship.“
The Fulbright Program looks for students with backgrounds in foreign language studies, strong academics and active community engagement, according to Koch.
Koch possesses all these qualities.
“I would have bet money on Alexandra winning from the time she began her application,” said UD Fulbright advisor and French program director Dr. Jason Lewallen. “Alexandra is a strong student with a background in German and a great deal of experience in politics and teaching.”
Koch is at UD on a German departmental scholarship. Last summer, she took a German course at the Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt in Italy. Koch said she also acquired language teaching experience at UD as part of a Language Pedagogy course and as a tutor.
Koch said she has interned for Senator Ted Cruz and Texas Representative Jeff Leach.
On campus, Koch participates in Student Government as a senator, is president of the German Club and vice-president of the Alexander Hamilton Foreign Policy Club.
Lewallen said that Koch’s studies and activities show an interest in both aspects of the Fulbright mission: the broad international relations and the small community relations.
Koch is especially excited about teaching in the Rhineland Pfalz because that particular region is more Catholic than other parts of Germany.
“I really want to look to my church for community — I think that will be a good way to get connected, so I definitely want to be in a Catholic region where I can have that option,” Koch said.
Koch mentioned her Catholic identity and her hope to connect with her church in her application. She thinks that her dedication to her church and beliefs may have made her application stand out from those of other students.
Koch is very happy about her award and is especially grateful both to her professors and to the UD students who have gone before her.
Koch is partly German in heritage and loved taking German in high school, but she said that she wouldn’t have had such an interest in German if she hadn’t learned under UD German professors Jacob-Ivan and Laura Eidt. She credits these professors with helping her achieve a high level in her German studies.
Koch said the legacy of past UD Fulbright recipients helped motivate her to apply to the Fulbright Program.
In fact, Koch had her first contact with the Fulbright Program as a prospective student visiting UD in 2015. During her visit, she attended a talk by Anthony Kersting, a senior who had just received a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship. Koch said that talk was “what really started getting the ball rolling” in terms of her Fulbright application. Throughout her time at UD, Koch also attended the talks on campus about prestigious scholarship opportunities, including the Fulbright Grant.