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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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Christopher Nash (’18) and Courtney Meissner (’20) Christopher Nash (’18) and Courtney Meissner (’20)

Taking Part In Educational Journeys

Since 2005-06, 92 SDSU students and recent alumni have received U.S. Fulbright grants.
By Ryan Schuler

“I realized how much I truly love being a part of other peoples' educational journeys. This opportunity brings together my two loves — education and travel — into one perfect combination.”

When recent alumna Courtney Meissner (’20) applied for the 2020-21 Student Fulbright Grant, she saw the opportunity for the intersection her two passions: education and travel.

“I have always been very keen to learn about and understand the world around me as well as various cultures near and far,” said Meissner.

Meissner is one of two recipients from San Diego State University to be selected for the prestigious Fulbright program. Since 2005-06, 92 SDSU students and recent alumni have been selected for the program. 

“At SDSU, preparing students to see themselves as global citizens who aspire to make an impact beyond the borders of their communities is critically important,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “We are exceptionally proud of Christopher (Nash) and Courtney, who are poised to take on the world’s challenges with greater awareness of diverse lived experiences and cultural values of communities around the world.” 

Having graduated from SDSU in May with a master's degree in communication studies, Meissner will be traveling to Bulgaria in January to serve as an English teaching assistant.

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Meissner plans to enhance the intercultural bond between the U.S. and Eastern Europe through teaching and participating in extracurricular activities throughout the community. Notably, Meissner plans to work with the speech and debate team at her host school, leveraging her previous public speaking experience.

“During my time as an undergraduate, I had two very exciting opportunities to study abroad, once in the United Kingdom and once in China,” said Meissner. “These times are what have shaped my worldview and interests in my studies.”

Meissner said she looks forward to her time abroad and is excited for the potential opportunity to make an impact on peoples’ lives.

“I realized how much I truly love being a part of other peoples' educational journeys,” she said. “This opportunity brings together my two loves — education and travel — into one perfect combination.” 

Coming into focus

Joining Meissner in Bulgaria as an English teaching assistant will be Christopher Nash (’18). Nash, who graduated from SDSU with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, says when he first heard about the Fulbright program, he knew it would be an invaluable personal and professional opportunity.

“Coming from generations of teachers and having interest in spending more time abroad, I knew this program was a natural fit for me,” said Nash. 

In Bulgaria, Nash will use American entertainment media to motivate his students to learn English. He intends to extend his lesson plans into the community by establishing book, debate, and sports clubs.

“I am looking forward to being able to paint a more intimate picture of America to the students,” said Nash. “I recognize that many people around the world get their idea of American culture from Hollywood movies and pop stars, so I hope to offer nuance and context to issues in the headlines using media with which the students are already familiar.

“As a Black man, I feel that I can provide a perspective on American society that isn't always relayed accurately abroad, particularly with the Black Lives Matter movement being at the forefront of the current national dialogue.”

Encouraging students to apply for the program and offering opportunities for transformative experiences inside and outside of the classroom is a priority of SDSU’s new five-year strategic plan, "We Rise We Defy: Transcending Borders, Transforming Lives." SDSU also ranks No. 5 nationally among universities for the number of students who study abroad.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, initiated in 1946 and funded through Congressional appropriations, offers research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. 

Visit the SDSU Fulbright program website to learn more about the upcoming application cycle, information sessions and writing workshops offered by the university.