BOZEMAN – An honors student at Montana State University who took a desire to become better at French and set out on a “brave and courageous” set of service projects throughout the world has won a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Malaysia.
Casianne Lund of Darien, Illinois, will travel to Kuala Lumpur on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship after she graduates magna cum laude this weekend with dual degrees in psychology and French from the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, both in the College of Letters and Science. In addition, she will graduate from the MSU Honors College and will have a minor in women’s studies.
Lund, who transferred to MSU after a year at Colorado State University to be closer to outdoor recreation opportunities, said a core foreign language requirement led her to study abroad and service opportunities in France, Morocco and Senegal, where she taught English to young boys and learned to speak the native dialect of Wolof.
“I thought if I had to learn French, I wanted to learn it well,” said Lund, who has worked at an assortment of on-campus and off-campus jobs to fund her determination to travel and work on service projects throughout the world.
Lund said her interest in global travel began with a summer of study in Montpellier, France, at an MSU-linked program where she became fluent in the language.
Lund then traveled to Morocco on a spring break with Ada Giusti, MSU French professor, to teach French and English and work in the community of remote Berber villages in the Atlas Mountains. There, she used French, the country’s official language, and also learned to speak a little Berber, Giusti said.
“She is an amazing student,” said Giusti, who said Lund’s lower-level French classes led her to the important understanding that by learning a language, you learn about cultures. “She embraced that. And, she is a student who worked so hard to make opportunities to study and travel abroad.”
Lund wanted to return to Africa after the Morocco experience so Giusti worked with her to identify a relevant internship with a non-governmental organization in Senegal, where French is also spoken. There, she taught boys, many who escaped Koranic schools and were waiting to be reunited with their families. The work was “heartbreaking but fulfilling,” Lund said. Lund also volunteered to work on a farm in Senegal. Giusti believes that Lund is the only MSU student to study and work in that country.
Lund’s experience in Senegal led Lund to apply for a Fulbright in Malaysia, a part of the world she has not yet visited and which has another set of languages and customs. She will teach English there and hopes to use her interest in women’s studies – an interest developed during a class at MSU which led to her taking enough courses to earn a minor in the subject – to develop an after school reading program for girls that will use English literature to facilitate discussion of girl’s issues in the Muslim country. Lund said she hopes the group will offer a sense of community that will encourage girls to both learn English and pursue their educational and vocational goals.
“Casi is so courageous, so willing to ask what she can do to serve and so willing to grow,” Giusti said. “She is an extraordinary person.”
Lund said after her Fulbright year she intends to earn a doctorate in school psychology, which she hopes to use either working in public schools in the U.S. or with an international NGO that works for child advocacy or children’s rights.
"We are so proud of Casi, and know that she will positively impact many lives as a Fulbright Scholar in Kuala Lumpur and also in her future career in international social work," said Ilse-Mari Lee, dean of the Honors College and one of Lund's mentors. "Casi is one of the kindest and compassionate people I know. She will be an outstanding ambassador of Montana State University and the United States."
Ilse-Mari Lee (406) 994-4689, firstname.lastname@example.org