Oversen’s road to a Fulbright grant was paved by family
- Department of Speech and Hearing Science
- Amanda Oversen
- University of Illinois
- College of Applied Health Sciences
Amanda Oversen’s interest in linguistics has a very clear inspiration: her mom.
Oversen, a Speech and Hearing Science major who graduated in December 2021, was recently awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain. Her goal is to become a bilingual speech-language pathologist for elementary school-aged students.
That makes sense given her curiosity about languages, which she credits to her mother.
“My mom is from Honduras. She immigrated to the U.S. when she was 16. And interestingly enough, she moved to the U.S. because she wanted to learn English. She also has this curiosity about language, which I think kind of rubbed off on me,” Oversen said.
While in Spain, Oversen plans to learn Spanish Sign Language and connect with the local deaf community. She also is interested in how to cultivate cultural-linguistic diversity in the American school system.
“I think when we learn a different language, it opens up just so many doors,” she said. “You're able to understand people on a different level. I find that really fascinating. I think a lot of that had to do with my mom growing up bilingual, too.”
Oversen, who is from Highland Park, Ill., served as a teaching assistant in the Child Development Laboratory in SHS, which amplified her desire to work with children.
“I loved how curious kids were, and how everything was new to them, how the tiniest thing—something that comes so commonly to adults—was mind-blowing to kids,” she said. “I just love the fascination that they had with things that adults take for granted. I think it would just be cool to help kids progress, and find confidence in their voice, despite the fact that they may have a speech or a language disorder.”
Picking Spain for her Fulbright application was an easy choice. Spanish was spoken in her childhood home, and she studied abroad in southern Granada during her sophomore year. Teaching in Spain has a family connection as well, as Oversen’s brother went there to teach English.
This time, Oversen will be stationed in the Canary Islands.
“The Canary Islands was never really on my radar, so when I found out I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, that's going to be quite an experience.’ I've never lived on an island before.”
Since graduation, Oversen has been working as an assistant teacher at an early childhood education center in Northbrook, Ill. When she completes her Fulbright stay, she plans on applying for graduate school, with the University of Illinois on the list.
“I've made kind of a master list of graduate schools. Almost all the schools are in Illinois, and a few out-of-state options. But I think I'd like to stay close to home, whether that be in Champaign or in Chicago.”