Gabrielle LaFata, a senior biology major and chemistry and honors minor from Morgantown, has been named West Virginia Wesleyan College's 12th Fulbright Scholar.
Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright Program provides funding for students, scholars, teachers and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools.
LaFata will travel to South Korea for a year, beginning in July. For the first six weeks of her stay, she will be training with 80 other Fulbright Scholars in Seoul. She then will be placed in a school to teach English classes to students ranging from elementary to high school age. She will do this for 20 hours a week, as well as be collaborating with other English teachers. The goal of this particular program is to act as an ambassador between the United States and the host country as LaFata shares her language, culture and knowledge with her students and community.
When she returns to the United States, she will be an ambassador for South Korea, sharing her experiences.
"I am both honored and humbled to have the opportunity to be an ambassador for my country, my college, my family and my God, Jesus Christ," LaFata said. "For me, this Fulbright experience will leave an indelible change on my life as it opens up a different perspective and understanding of a new country, culture and community. I am looking forward to impacting the lives of my students and sharing what I have with others. I am anticipating a life-changing experience."
While at West Virginia Wesleyan, LaFata has participated in a number of activities that will help her in her endeavor. She has participated in research with the WV-INBRE Program, as well as worked as resident assistant and director, a freshmen seminar leader and lab assistant. She also will gain some experience abroad while working on the Tel-Hazor Archaeological Dig at Hebrew University in Tel-Hazor, Israel, this summer through the Maxine Bruhn's International Scholarship.
LaFata also has taken an interest in serving her community as a volunteer therapy assistant and co-leader as a nursing home minister. She also participated in two alternate spring break trips through the college, working on Hurricane Katrina relief in New Orleans and assisting Habitat for Humanity in St. Simon's Island, Ga.
A member of both Alpha Lambda Delta and the Resident Assistant Counsel, she serves in the positions of president and vice president, respectively. She also is a member of Beta Beta Beta and Phi Kappa Phi, lead violinist of Fellowship of Christian Students, represents her peers on the Student Senate and competes on the track and field team.