Fulbright scholar will travel to South AfricaWritten by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
Toledo native and Fulbright Scholarship recipient Scott Fry will travel to Johannesburg, South Africa, in January to teach and serve as a cultural ambassador.
“South Africa has a lot of potential, but it needs a lot of help,” Fry said.
Through the Fulbright program, Fry will teach literacy strategies at the University of Witwatersrand, work at a writing center and offer tutoring services to the community. Fulbright gives its recipients funding to study, research or teach abroad. For the 2011-12 school year, Fulbright committed funds to 1,600 U.S. citizens.
Fry graduated from Sylvania Southview High School in 2005 and from The Ohio State University in 2009 with a degree in political science and economics. He earned a master’s degree from Dominican University in the Chicago area in 2011. While in Chicago, he taught middle school at Parkman Elementary through the Teach For America (TFA) program. His experience with TFA and his teachers inspired him to pursue the Fulbright.
One of Fry’s high school teachers and current mentor, Janet Rogolsky, said she believes Fry will do “an outstanding job” in South Africa.
“I’m sure you will see him living a life of worth,” she said. “Scott’s work ethic is sublime, he truly has a dedicated work ethic and he has always shown that doing the job.”
Fry displayed that work ethic at Parkman Elementary by organizing a trip for 21 sixth-graders to The Ohio State University. During the school year, Fry’s classroom was Ohio State-themed, complete with a Woody Hayes picture and a secret handshake. Fry set up a fundraising website, a Facebook page and contacted OSU to raise money for the trip. Once the students were in Columbus, they attended the homecoming parade and OSU game, sample lectures and a speech by President Gordon Gee.
Calling the trip his most meaningful life experience, Fry said, “Hopefully, it gave [the sixth-graders] an idea that university is a possibility and they should aim to go to university.”
Fry’s family history in South Africa is another reason he was drawn to the country, which he visited last summer. Fry’s grandmother and her family moved to South Africa from Germany in 1927 and his great-grandfather lived in an internment camp there during World War II. Some of Fry’s family still lives there.
“By trying to understand my family, I have come to a deeper appreciation of many South African struggles, especially the people’s desire for equality and prosperity in a country that guaranteed both for a select few,” Fry wrote in his personal statement for the Fulbright application.
The nearly yearlong application process of screenings, waiting and interviews was intense for Fry, who learned he was a finalist in January and a Fulbright recipient in May. As the date he leaves for South Africa approaches, he said he is excited.
“I can’t wait. I just signed a lease this past week. There are some things I have to figure out — like buying a car,” he said, laughing.