May 1, 2020

Samantha Thompson Earns Fulbright Award to Teach in Taiwan

Samantha Thompson West Chester UniversityWest Chester University senior Samantha L. Thompson of Mansfield, NJ, has received a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award for an English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) for the 2020-2021 academic year from the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

An Early Grades Preparation & Special Education double major, Thompson said she was motivated to apply after talking with a high school friend who’d earned a grant to teach in Taiwan two years ago. She researched Taiwan and said she “fell in love with it. What better way to see the world while I build experience in my career?”

ETAs are placed full-time in elementary schools, junior high schools, or high schools, usually assisting local English teachers, and work 35 hours per week, although only about 20 hours are actually spent in the classroom. All ETAs are also required to conduct a service project during the grant period. This service work is in the assigned host community, making genuine contributions as they build interpersonal connections.

Traditionally, Fulbright ETA awards cover a full academic year but this year, due to COVID-19, assignments will be conducted from Jan. 1, 2021, through June 2021. With the unexpected opening in her fall 2020 calendar,

Thompson plans to get her substitute teaching certification. “My home district is hiring,” she noted. She has completed her special ed placement and is planning to transfer her Pennsylvania teaching certification to New Jersey when she moves home after finals.

“Samantha’s success is a reflection of WCU’s commitment to providing education that allows students to understand the links between their own lives and those of people throughout the world and contribute to the common good,” noted Vishal Shah, associate dean of WCU’s College of the Sciences and Mathematics and interim associate vice president of the Global Engagement Office. “I congratulate Samantha for being recognized with this prestigious award and to all the staff and faculty who supported her throughout the process.”

Thompson credited her mentor, Ashley Miller, assistant professor of special education, as a role model who has supported her in her academic pursuits. Thompson also credited Lisa Drusedum, education abroad coordinator in WCU’s Global Engagement Office and campus administrator for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, who provided guidance in completing the application and facilitated the process.

Drusedum is currently advising for the 2021-2022 grant cycle. Interested students should contact to set up a virtual appointment.

Thompson is one of more than 2,100 U.S. citizens who will study, conduct research, and teach abroad for the 2020-2021 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. In the United States, the Institute of International Education supports the implementation of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program on behalf of the U.S. Department of State.

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas and is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. For more information, visit


Back to top of page.