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NMSU alumna awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, will travel to Romania

Release Date: 09 May 2022
NMSU alumna awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship, will travel to Romania

Isabel Crist has always had a passion for travel. In high school, Crist spent time in France through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. She also has a passion for teaching, inspired by her father, a Las Cruces English teacher.

It was an easy decision for Crist, who graduated from New Mexico State University in 2021, to apply for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program. She received word last month that she was chosen for an assistantship in Romania, where she will be teaching at a university there. She is still awaiting word on exactly where in Romania she will be teaching.

“I’ve always been interested in Eastern European history,” Crist said. When she learned she had received the assistantship, she was on a plane with her boyfriend traveling home from Brazil, where she had been teaching English.

“There was someone sitting in the middle seat between my boyfriend and I, and when the plane landed and I got the email, I was silently freaking out, because I didn’t want to disturb the person sitting between us,” Crist said.

Crist earned bachelor’s degrees in history and foreign languages from NMSU. She is a graduate of Centennial High School and grew up in Las Cruces. Her father, Joel Hutchinson, has been an English teacher in Las Cruces for decades.

It was Crist’s mentor, Glenn Fetzer, who inspired her to pick Romania for her next destination. Fetzer is head of the Department of Languages and Linguistics at NMSU, and also helped Crist with preparing her application for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program. Crist also received help from Andrea Orzoff, director of NMSU’s Office of National Scholarship and International Education, Honors College Dean Phame Camarena and other NMSU faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Isabel’s Fulbright is more evidence of her talent and perseverance, and to the way NMSU faculty work in community to support our students,” Orzoff said. 

Fetzer called Crist’s selection for the Fulbright teaching assistantship a “noteworthy accomplishment.”

Crist had previously applied for the program but was not selected. When she applied this year, she had a better understanding of the process.

“I worked with Dr. Fetzer on some materials from my previous application, which I had started mostly on my own, but I submitted everything to my mentors as if I was really submitting my application,” Crist said. “They gave me feedback on anything that was unclear, and after that, I had a chance to redo it and submit it to Fulbright.”

Crist said she benefitted from being in a smaller department at NMSU, because faculty advocated for and helped her during her time there. 

“Dr. Fetzer specifically went out of his way to help me get grants and awards,” Crist said. “Being in such a large school with small departments made that possible. My professors went out of their way to help.”

During her 10 months in Romania, Crist will also work on a supplemental research project studying the transition from the struggles of communism into a democracy.

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