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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Le’Ana Freeman wins the Fulbright Scholarship

Fulbright Scholarship winner Le’Ana Freeman in Cape Town, South Africa while teaching at at a senior primary school. // Photo courtesy of Le’Ana Freeman.

While teaching abroad in South Africa at a senior primary school, a student said to Le’Ana Freeman, “You’re the only teacher in this school that really believes in us,” and it was then she knew education would always be a part of her life.

Thanks to the recent awarding of the Fulbright Scholarship, senior human rights major Le’Ana Freeman will be able to continue to educate and positively impact others.

Freeman received the English Teaching Award through the Fulbright Scholarship, which requires applicants to be postgraduates to be considered for any of the grants.

Due to this requirement, Freeman was up against applicants with their masters or doctorate degrees for the competitive scholarship.

She was one of only 14 others who were awarded this grant around the nation.

All obstacles aside, Freeman was awarded the scholarship making her the first black woman at Western to receive a Fulbright Scholarship.

This accomplishment is something Freeman hopes will encourage other students of color to apply for competitive fellowships and grants, she said.

“I hope this helps others realize that academia and these kinds of scholarships don’t have a face,” Freeman said.

Non-traditional students are just as intelligent and just as capable, Freeman said.

Last academic year, Freeman spent 10 months abroad with the Fairhaven Adventure Learning Grant, which allowed her to teach in South Africa, as well as visit India.

With the help of the Fulbright Scholarship, Freeman plans on returning to India to continue her student teaching and expand her knowledge of education, she said.

The Fulbright Scholarship is a fellowship that will grant Freeman funding for travel and living expenses over 10 months.

While in India, Freeman will be a teaching assistant teaching English full time, and hopes to start a speech and debate team there as well.

Tom Moore, director of the Western Fellowship Office, recommended Freeman for the Fulbright and helped her through the application process.

Freeman being awarded the Fulbright was wonderful because she is such a strong and exceptional person, Moore said.

“[Freeman] is somebody who is not afraid of challenges of any kind, but at the same time she is also compassionate and understanding of why people may think differently than she does,” Moore said.

After her time in Africa, Freeman spent the past six months of this school year as a peer mentor on campus, as well as a receptionist for the Student Outreach Services.

Freeman said the skills and experiences she gained in Africa helped her step into the role of peer mentor and help those in the Student Outreach Services office.

She said she also believes the experiences she has gained through her time as a mentor and receptionist will assist her in India.

All of her experiences, in Africa, India and at Western, have prepared her to return to India and teach, Freeman said.

“Everything has kind of been building up to this moment,” Freeman said.

Secretary Lead for Student Outreach Services, Laura Ghan, said Freeman has made a positive impact on the office in her time working there.

“A lot of students come in to student outreach services and it may be their first time coming in to the office and [Freeman] really makes them feel at home right away,” Ghan said.

Ghan thinks Freeman will be successful in India thanks to Freeman’s devotion to helping other people.

“[Freeman] is so passionate about traveling, helping others and having new experiences,” Ghan said.

Freeman is set to graduate this June before embarking for India in August.

Though nothing is set in stone, Freeman has applied to Heidelberg University in Germany where she could potentially continue her education after returning from India.  

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