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Heading to Spain, Student Joins Growing Roster of Fulbrights

Sunday, September 11, 2016

“As a freshman, I knew I would be getting a good education at St. John’s,” Andrew Chang ’16TCB, ’16C observed recently. “But I never dreamed the University would give me the chance to live all over the world.”

The opportunities keep coming. Chang is St. John’s latest Fulbright Scholar—the University’s 28th student to receive the honor since 2012. Through the award, the New Hyde Park, NY, native heads to Spain this fall to teach public high school students in the capital city of Madrid.

Chang’s path to Spain began with one of St. John’s many Global Studies courses. In 2015, the Institute of International Education (IIE) named the University among the top-40 doctorate-granting American institutions with the greatest proportion of undergraduates who study abroad. A finance major in The Peter J. Tobin College of Business, Chang wanted to make the most of those opportunities. He was a sophomore when he enrolled in Discover the World: Europe, a course in which students spend a semester living and learning at St. John’s academic locations in Rome, Paris, and Seville.

“When I arrived in Spain,” Chang said, “I only spoke English. But I became fascinated by the language, history, and culture of Seville.” His growing interest in the city inspired him to learn “as much Spanish as I could.” He quickly gained a mastery of the language. “By the end of the trip,” he said, “I was having conversations with Spanish friends who couldn’t speak English.”

“When I first met him, he already spoke like a true Spaniard—after spending only a few weeks in Spain,” said Marie-Lise Gazarian, Ph.D., Professor of Spanish. Gazarian taught Chang’s first course in the language at the University. “He’s one of the brightest students I’ve ever met, with an incredible talent and passion for languages.”

Adding Spanish to finance, Chang ultimately changed to a double major. He credits Gazarian with inspiring him to make the move. “She’s been an important mentor to me,” he said. Gazarian also encouraged him to apply for the Fulbright. With help from another professor, Alina Camacho-Gingerich, Ph.D., Professor of Spanish and Chair of the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, he completed the process and was selected for the coveted award.

For Chang, the Fulbright is an opportunity to return to Spain. He begins his nine-month assignment in Madrid on September 15. Before then, he spent the summer backpacking through Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. The journey, he said, began with St. John’s: “It’s totally changed my life.”