Montana State University

MSU student receives Fulbright to teach in Germany

June 5, 2008 -- Anne Pettinger, MSU News Service

MSU graduate Cathy Heidner has received a Fulbright grant to teach English for 10 months in Germany. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.   High-Res Available

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A Montana State University student has received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Germany.

Cathy Heidner, 23, who graduated from MSU this spring with degrees in secondary education and modern languages/German, will spend 10 months as a teacher's assistant in Saxony, a German state in the eastern part of the country.

"I'm excited for the opportunity," said Heidner, who is from Kirkland, Wash. "Even though the application process was a lot of work, I'm really glad I went through with it."

Heidner said she is looking forward to spending extra time in a classroom, particularly since it will be in a foreign country. She is also excited to work on her own language skills.

Heidner does not yet know how old the students are with whom she will be working, but informational materials from Fulbright indicate the range could be students aged 12-18. She also will help the students with extracurricular activities.

Heidner's 10-month stint in Germany, which will run from September 2008 through June 2009, will not be the only significant time she has spent in the country. She previously lived in Tübingen, near Stuttgart, Germany, when she studied abroad during the 2004-2005 school year. She also has family in the country.

Heidner's path to studying German and education at MSU came about after trying out several other subjects.

"I thought I wanted to be an architecture major, and I played the bassoon," she said. "The music department got me hooked on MSU."

But after taking a few courses designed for architecture majors, Heidner decided to switch directions. German especially made sense as a major, Heidner said, given that she had taken three years of the language in high school and tested into a 200-level course at the university. In addition to her two majors at MSU, Heidner also received a minor in history.

"One of the really good things about coming to MSU was I was able to study a broad range of things and everything fit," Heidner said. "Even when I switched majors, I could continue with music."

Heidner is in the process of applying to graduate programs in education, which she would like to begin after she returns from Germany.

Sally O'Neill, Fulbright adviser at MSU, said that there have been several MSU students who have received an English teaching assistantship to Germany.

"I believe that their experiences have been very rewarding on many levels," O'Neill said.

The Fulbright Program, which the U.S. Congress established in 1946, awarded approximately 6,000 grants in 2007, at a cost of more than $262 million, for U.S. students, teachers, professionals, and scholars to study, teach and conduct research in more than 155 countries.

Heidner is one of two MSU students who received Fulbrights this year. The other is Brent Leavell, a master's degree student in geography who received a grant to conduct research in Indonesia.

For related articles, see:
"MSU student receives Fulbright for Indonesian research," May 27, 2008

"MSU professor to teach mechanical engineering in Bangladesh," May 7, 2008

"Statistics professor receives Fulbright to teach in Thailand," April 9, 2008

"MSU filmmaking students win Fulbright scholarships," Oct. 29, 2007

"Fulbright will allow MSU researcher to compare German, Montana forests," May 23, 2007

Cathy Heidner, 406-570-9580 or