MACON – Mercer University senior Will Darragh recently received a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Award to serve as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in South Africa. Additionally, seniors Sarah Harris and Jessica Lewis were selected as alternates for ETAs in Cote d’Ivoire and Spain, respectively.
Darragh, from Greenwood, South Carolina, is majoring in computer science with a minor in math.
“South Africa is a rapidly changing country and a center of all the things important to me – education, development and technology,” said Darragh. “I look forward to the experience of being an ETA and the valuable preparation it will give me to be a lifelong educator.”
Darragh will be placed at a South African college or university to strengthen English language instruction and create a community engagement project. He intends to start a digital literacy group to teach basic technology skills and programming fundamentals.
Upon returning from South Africa, he plans to obtain a Ph.D. in computer science and become a professor with research interests related to public digital literacy, computer science education and computing for development.
While at Mercer, Darragh has served as a Mercer Service Scholar, member of the Binary Bears programming team, editor-in-chief of The Dulcimer literary magazine, a writing preceptor and participant in the Great Books Program.
He has traveled twice with Mercer On Mission to South Africa, once as a student and once as a teaching assistant and team leader. He is a recipient of the Computer Science Student of the Year Award, Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award and Megan Murphy Memorial Award.
“Few individuals possess the intellectual agility that Will does,” said Dr. Robert Allen, professor and chair of computer science. “Will effortlessly demonstrates mastery in a variety of fields with grace and charm. His interests range from the mathematical and technical, to the social and philosophical. He is deeply passionate about teaching and learning and shines brightly when engaged with this passion. Will is also an excellent cook, as witnessed in his BBQ contest and chili cook-off entries over the past few years. He clearly personifies the term Renaissance man.”
Harris, from Austell, is a French and international affairs double-major with a minor in global development. She plans to pursue a career as a language educator teaching French or teaching English in a French-speaking country.
At Mercer, she has participated in Model Arab League, African Student Association, Bears Engaging Across Religions, Operation Lighthouse and the SOUL Project. She has served as a French tutor at the Academic Resource Center and a teaching assistant in beginning French courses. She is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society and received the L.P. Irvin award.
Lewis, from Hilliard, Ohio, is a holistic child education and Spanish double-major. She plans to teach first grade at Springdale Elementary School in Macon and also obtain her English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement.
At Mercer, she has served as a Mercer Service Scholar, participant in the University Honors Program, a Study Abroad Ambassador, co-president of Mercer Educators in Action and a peer advisor. She studied abroad at the University of Chichester in the United Kingdom, traveled to Cape Town, South Africa, with Mercer On Mission and studied Spanish and taught English in Seville, Spain.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build relations between the people of the United States and the people of other countries that are needed to solve global challenges. The program 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.
The program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. Since then, it has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 60 Nobel Prize winners, 86 Pulitzer Prize winners, 37 current or former heads of state or government and thousands of leaders across the private, public and nonprofit sectors.