Love of a New Language Leads Fulbright Winner Back to Spain
After a semester abroad inspired his passion for Spanish language and culture, Andrew Chang ’16TCB, ’16C is heading to Spain this fall to teach public high school students in Madrid as St. John’s University’s latest Fulbright recipient.
A native of New Hyde Park, NY, Chang is the University’s 28th student to earn the prestigious award since 2012.
Chang entered St. John’s as a finance major and added Spanish for a double major after spending his sophomore year at the University’s academic locations in Rome, Paris, and Seville. “When I arrived in Seville, I only spoke English,” he said. “I was fascinated by the history and culture of the city, and was motivated to learn as much Spanish as I could. By the end of the trip, I was having conversations with Spanish friends who didn’t speak English.”
“When I first met Andy, he already spoke like a true Spaniard after only spending a few weeks in Spain,” said Marie-Lise Gazarian, Ph.D., who taught Chang’s first Spanish course at the University. “He’s one of the brightest students I’ve ever met, with an incredible talent and passion for languages.” Chang cites Gazarian as one of his closest mentors at St. John’s and credits her with inspiring him to pursue his degree in Spanish and applying for the Fulbright.
Chang, who is also president of Epsilon Kappa, St. John's Chapter of the National Hispanic Honor Society, and recipient of the national organization’s Premio Gabriela Mistral award, yearned to return to Spain. “From the moment I got back to the United States, I was thinking about ways to get back there,” he said. “I felt like I had unfinished business.”
When he learned about the Fulbright Scholar Program, he thought it would be the ideal way to return. With help from his mentor, Alina Camacho-Gingerich, Ph.D., Professor of Languages and Literatures, Chang applied and was selected for the coveted award.
“Andrew is the kind of student any top-rated university would want to recruit—intelligent, multilingual, hard-working, service-oriented, and curious about the world,” said Camacho-Gingerich. “His Fulbright award is a confirmation of what a St. John’s education, with its global and Vincentian Mission, is all about.”
On September 15, Chang begins his nine-month Fulbright assignment in Madrid. Until then, he plans to backpack through Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand for three months. He is quick to point out that this journey began in Queens. “As a freshman, I knew I would get a good education,” he said, “but I never dreamed I’d live all over the world. St. John’s has totally changed my life.”