2015 Global Scholar
Ph.D. student at Yale University
Taking full advantage of the Global Scholars Program’s intercultural learning opportunities and faculty-mentored research, Fields developed the skills necessary to successfully teach English to high school students in France. She was among six KU students to receive a prestigious Fulbright Award for 2017-18.
Fields was fortunate to have multiple experiences abroad before graduating in spring 2017 with a degree in ecology and French. Her Global Scholars scholarship helped fund a study abroad experience in Costa Rica, where she often found herself identifying plants on hikes through the forests and jungles thanks to her “History and Diversity of Organisms” course at KU. She delighted in seeing the sustainable agriculture and ecology principles she had learned about in the classroom applied in real life.
Additionally, Fields volunteered on organic farms in France the summer before her senior year. While there, she developed the idea for her Global Scholars research project, which combined her two areas of study (ecology and French) by examining the various perspectives on nature in French literature. In particular, she focused on literature that emphasized how the expansion of societal structure played a role in human devolution and a loss of connection to Nature.
"Abby is a truly remarkable young scholar," said Dr. Christine Bourgeois, her Global Scholars faculty mentor. "In her time at KU, she took complex interdisciplinary steps to transform her in-depth understanding of ecological sciences into a unique research profile in the humanities. "
Fields said that fostering relationships with professors, expanding her knowledge of French literature, and pushing her academically, the Global Scholars research project greatly enriched her time at KUs. These experiences also played a large role in preparing Fields for her work as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in Marseille, France. As an ETA, she helped plan and lead language and culture lessons for high school students.
“It is a great honor to be a Fulbrighter,” said Fields. “Fulbright focuses on cultural exchanges and values those interpersonal interactions. The program encourages us to understand one another, our educational systems, and cultures. I really value those two-way exchanges created by Fulbright.”
Among her many lessons was one on Thanksgiving. She brought homemade pumpkin bread for her students, who initially eyed it with skepticism but soon warmed to the sweet, spicy treat. It was a delicious end to a complicated lesson that examined the myths and realities of the holiday. After discussing the issues, students brainstormed creative, empathetic, and inclusive ways to acknowledge the day. Fields said it turned into an inspiring experience for her.
In addition to teaching, Fields started the school’s Environmental Club.The goal was to increase the amount of plant life in the school courtyard. The students planted almost exclusively edible plants that they will be able to harvest for their families, said Fields.
“I talk a lot with my students about stereotypes and how problematic they are. I see myself as a representative of the United States and the good in my country,” said Fields. “After returning to the United States, I want to help break stereotypes that Americans hold about France.”
This fall she will be begin a Ph.D. program at Yale University in French literature where she plans to continue studying the vital relationships between the human experience and the natural world.
2011 Global Scholar Cohort
Alumni Relations & Annual Fund Officer at New York University Abu Dhabi
Dr. Megan Greene’s seminar course was the best preparation for graduate school I could have received. Since graduating from KU (Secondary Education in 2014), I have studied at Columbia
University in New York City and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Many of the discussions I have had at these universities felt like conversations I first experienced in my seminar course.
Between my sophomore year and senior year at KU, I experienced the biggest years of growth in my life to this point. I believe Global Scholars played a large role in this transformation. The Global Scholar scholarship made my studying abroad dreams possible. I studied in Carpi, Italy, which was a perfect fit. It gave me direct experience teaching in Italian schools and learning from their model. It is part of KU’s nationally renowned study away teaching program directed by Dr. Barbara Bradley.
The research experience through Global Scholars prepped me for the research I would later conduct in graduate school, in my career, and for publications. While the research experience was critical, the most important aspect of Global Scholar was working with fellow scholars. Drawing some of the brightest, diverse, and most motivated individuals from across KU, the program allowed me to learn from individuals who approach issues from different angles. Global Scholars reaffirmed a career on the international level is where I belong and helped me secure the confidence to do so.
I currently serve as the Alumni Relations & Annual Fund Officer at New York University Abu Dhabi, where I develop international outreach for the university, create scholarship access initiatives, and direct cultural awareness programs. I also work as an independent consultant, advising individuals, universities, companies, and organizations on intercultural practices.