Traveling to Bulgaria to teach English wasn’t in Laura Acuff’s original plan upon graduating from ACU this month. But a Fulbright Scholarship changed all that.
In Laura’s junior year at ACU, she heard about the prestigious exchange program, which is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.
She researched the program and met with Fulbright representatives on ACU’s campus. Upon their recommendation, she then began working with the ESL (English as a Second Language) program on campus teaching English to international students.
After the application process and months of anticipation, Laura discovered she had been accepted into the Fulbright program and will travel to Pleven, Bulgaria, this fall. She will teach English in a language-focused high school where she will have her own classes to plan and teach.
“It’s an incredible blessing,” says Laura, who graduates with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and history. “And while I’ve worked very hard to prepare for and be qualified for opportunities, this one is just too big. I don’t know that I can say I earned it. God had an obvious hand in aligning my interests and opportunities even before I found the Fulbright program to start proactively, pointedly working toward this goal.”
While she is in Bulgaria, Laura hopes to serve the community in special ways. Bulgaria, she says, “homes a lot of broken people” because of sex trafficking. Her career plan now involves marriage and family therapy, so she intends to observe and help the community in any way she can.
“There are discernible, universal truths and common patterns in humanity,” Laura says. “Sometimes crossing cultures is the best way to bring those to light. Understanding people will be an integral part of my post-Fulbright career.”
A grand adventure
Although traveling to Bulgaria will be a new experience for her, Laura feels prepared for her journey because of the educational opportunities offered at ACU.
“I have teaching experience; I studied abroad with the JMC department; and just being able to pursue the majors and minors I have has taught me greater flexibility and time management,” she says.
While Laura graduates with a journalism degree, she has been able to dapple with different areas of interest and find what passions she could use in her life.
“ACU has been a great place to stretch myself, to see what interests I can turn into lifelong hobbies and which passions I can make into a vocation,” Laura says. “I’ve been able to take classes in and work with so many different departments and professors; I never had to be just a journalism student. I’m also a historian, a political science minor, a writer, a teacher, an RA and a peer leader. I think those might have been harder to mesh at a larger university.”
As Laura graduates, she looks forward to a new adventure that will take her from Abilene to Bulgaria. Laura finds the unknown exciting.
“I have no idea how this chapter will impact me, but I do know that after every grand adventure God sees fit to throw my way, I feel like a more complete being, more like who he designed me to be,” she says. “My hope for this experience is that it will grow me, just as all the others have. How, exactly, that will happen is just part of the adventure.”