Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

May 9, 2006

Soon-to-be NIU alumna wins Fulbright
to teach English in the Slovak Republic

DeKalb — Kathy Taylor Schlieper will graduate Saturday, May 13, from Northern Illinois University with a master's degree specializing in English as a Second Language.

Come the fall, Schlieper will put her new degree to good use with an eight-month Fulbright appointment to Comenius University in the Slovak Republic. She will teach English to students at the university, located in the capital city of Bratislava.

“This will give Kathy a chance to see internationally how the teaching of English as a foreign language is done, and it will provide her enormous opportunities and learning experiences to bring back to this country,” added Richard Orem, an NIU Presidential Teaching Professor in the College of Education's Department of Literacy Education. “Hopefully she'll be able to share that learning with others when she returns.”

Comenius University is about the size of NIU, Schlieper said, with a faculty numbering about 2,000. She reports for orientation Sept. 20 and, beyond that, has few expectations.

“I am absolutely thrilled. More than 5,000 people applied for 1,100 positions in over 150 countries. It's very competitive, so I feel really fortunate,” said Schlieper, who has taught English at Kishwaukee Community College and Waubonsee Community College to English language learners.

“I am nervous about the language. The Slovak language is unfamiliar to me,” she added. “I definitely hope to learn all about their culture and the traditions. My biggest goal is to get to know some of the Slovak people personally. That's, to me, what this is all about.”

Schlieper, whose four children are between the ages of 25 and 30, plans to sell her home and put her things into storage. She hopes her Fulbright experience will lead to finding a permanent position in Eastern Europe that would extend her stay.

“I've always been interested in international anything, especially travel,” said Schlieper, who's visited Asia, Brazil, Germany, India and elsewhere. “I've had a lot of exchange students live in my home over the years. In 1997, my daughter had a Fulbright scholarship to Croatia. I visited Bosnia with my late husband. But I've never had the opportunity to live abroad.”

The Sycamore resident also has a master's degree in speech pathology from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelor's degree in linguistics from the University of Iowa.

Established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program's purpose is to build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

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