Travis Sigafoos ’16 Receives Fulbright Grant to Mexico Posted on April 28th, 2016 by

Travis Sigafoos '16

Travis Sigafoos ’16

Gustavus Adolphus College senior Travis Sigafoos ’16 was recently named a recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant to Mexico for the 2016-2017 academic year. As a winner of the COMEXUS Fulbright-García Robles ETA grant, Sigafoos joins classmates Ben Dipple and Joey Wiley as one of the College’s three recipients of the 2016-2017 Fulbright ETA award.

Fulbright’s ETA program places recent college graduates and young professionals as English teaching assistants in primary and secondary schools or universities overseas. ETA participants improve foreign students’ English language abilities and knowledge of the United States while increasing the U.S. students’ own language skills and knowledge of the host country.

Sigafoos, a psychological science and Spanish double major with a neuroscience minor, studied in Toledo, Spain as a junior. During the trip, he worked with elementary students on their English skills, an experience that led him to apply for the Fulbright. “After being introduced to several classrooms, I soon found myself warming up my dormant vocal cords while doing my best Gene Kelly impression and leading the children in song and dance to ‘Singing in the Rain,’” he wrote in his application. When he returned to campus, he became even more active in the Gustavus Spanish department, serving as a departmental assistant and facilitating a weekly dinner and conversation session for new Spanish students. “These experiences abroad and at home have provided challenges that I would expect and value as an ETA in Mexico,” Sigafoos continued.

“Travis is an enthusiastic, energetic, and organized student. He is friendly and personable and connects very well with people,” Spanish professor and modern languages, literatures, and cultures department chair Maria Isabel Kalbermatten said. “What has impressed me the most about Travis is that he is not afraid of challenges.”

“He can talk the talk and walk the walk,” Spanish professor Angelique Dwyer agreed. “During his senior year I have seen him come across some high-stress situations in which he has needed to use his bilingual and bicultural skills in a spontaneous setting. He has conquered all of them and made the Spanish section proud.”

Sigafoos is the president of the Gustavus chapter of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, serves as a Spanish tutor, and is a member of the language buddies club. He has also been an active researcher, assisting on experiments and analysis in two neuroscience labs and working as a student assistant in the psychological sciences department.

Sigafoos presents at last year's Celebration of Creative Inquiry.

Sigafoos presents at last year’s Celebration of Creative Inquiry.

“Travis is a highly motivated and inquisitive student who is a lot of fun to have in the laboratory and the classroom,” psychological science professor Kayla De Lorme said. “There have been times when I have pointed to a piece of lab equipment and told him to ‘figure it out,’ and he does with ease and enthusiasm.”

A native of Champlin, Minn., Sigafoos is weighing his options for the future but hopes to pursue a career in healthcare management and policy. “Through teaching and community engagement, the Fulbright scholarship would allow me to develop a nuanced understanding of Mexican cultures and dialects that would be an asset moving forward in any position,” he said. “From doing neuroscience research to serving as the academic assistant in the Spanish program, Gustavus has developed my skills and personality through unique opportunities.”

Sigafoos is the third Gustavus student to be named a winner of the Fulbright ETA grant this year. For more information about the Gustavus Fellowships Office and the support it gives to students, please visit the fellowship website.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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