Marie Lilly ’17, a biology major with minors in Hispanic studies and environmental studies, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia.
Lilly, who is from Urbana, Illinois, says the Fulbright award will give her invaluable experience teaching at the university level while working with bilingual students.
“I am often asked why I chose biology and Hispanic studies, two disciplines that at first glance seem unrelated. However, many Spanish-speaking countries are at the forefront of environmental research and conservation, including Colombia. Not only is being able to speak Spanish important for me in pursuing a career in biology, but I believe that a cultural context is necessary to inform communication and truly reach proficiency,” Lilly says.
Before she came to Oberlin, Lilly spent a gap year in Spain devoted to perfecting her Spanish skills while exploring biology outside of a classroom setting. She participated in an intensive Spanish program at the University of Granada’s Center for Modern Languages, while an internship teaching at a bilingual grade school provided her first foray into teaching.
“These experiences broadened my understanding of what a learning environment can be and encouraged me to question the factors that contribute to compelling pedagogy,” she says. “At Oberlin, I have continued to contemplate these questions by taking a diverse course load as well as focusing on education in my extracurricular involvements.”
During her first and second years at Oberlin, Lilly received winter term grants to help fund an internship with an in-water sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica. In spring 2016, she studied abroad in Ecuador through the School for International Training’s comparative ecology and conservation program.
For the past two years, she participated in the Spanish in the Elementary Schools program, “which has given me a lot of insight for effective language pedagogy.” She has also worked as an OWLS (Oberlin Workshop and Learning Sessions) leader for BIO 100 and worked in the Quantitative Skills Center as a drop-in tutor and BIO 213 lab teaching assistant.
“These experiences have challenged me to create engaging lessons and workshops, helping to prepare me for my upcoming year teaching English at a university in Colombia.”
After her Fulbright, she wants to pursue a graduate degree in the field of disease ecology. “It is my intention with this degree to eventually become a professor, and I will likely be working with bilingual students and colleagues.”
Outside of academics, Lilly has played with the Ultimate Frisbee team all four years. She is on the Student Union Board and Program Board, a member of the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association, and a member of the Oberlin College Gap Year club, which helps students transition into college life. She also took flute lessons for credit in the Conservatory of Music and played in the Arts & Sciences Orchestra.