Laura Isdahl ’17 Receives Fulbright Grant to MalaysiaThe Gustavus senior will teach in Malaysia through Fulbright's English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program in 2018.
Posted on April 11th, 2017 by

Gustavus Adolphus College senior Laura Isdahl has been named a winner of the Fulbright English Teacher Assistant (ETA) grant. She will use the award to teach in Malaysia from January through November 2018.

Laura Isdahl ’17

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.

“It is such an honor to win the Fulbright. I am looking forward to investing myself in a community in Malaysia,” Isdahl said. “I’ve had the goal to teach English abroad for many years, but it’s always seemed far-off and unrealistic. Now that it’s a reality, there’s nothing more exciting than seeing this dream actualized.”

Isdahl, a native of Plymouth, Minn. and graduate of Wayzata High School, sought the Fulbright grant to continue her international studies, which have included experiences in South Africa and Italy during her time at Gustavus. An English major with a 3.93 cumulative grade point average, she will graduate summa cum laude this spring.

“I plan to share my passion for creative writing with my host community,” Isdahl wrote in her Fulbright application. “I want to create a group of students and community members who are interested in writing. We can practice storytelling, writing, creative expression, and practice English in a different setting and context to bring out passions within students.”

“Laura’s a wonderful student and writer, but she also has intangible skills as a leader and communicator that make her really stand out,“ Gustavus English professor Baker Lawley said. “The Fulbright committee clearly saw the same things. I’m very proud of her and excited for her to have this opportunity.”

Isdahl in South Africa

An editor of Firethorne and Writing Center tutor, Isdahl has also been involved as a Gustie Greeter, Gustavus Ambassador, Building Bridges committee member, and member of the Guild of St. Lucia. After taking advantage of the Fulbright program, she hopes to work in publishing or in non-profit administration. Her interests also include marketing, editing, and fundraising.

“Malaysia’s ethnic and religious diversity offers a unique combination of people with multitudes of stories and traditions that I seek to understand,” Isdahl wrote in her application essay. “I want to gain an appreciation for these differences as well as the similarities I draw to the United States, and apply these to live conscientiously. Understanding humanity’s shared history offers a fresh perspective leading to more expansive ways of thinking.”

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



  1. Katie Maiers says:

    Congratulations Laura! I am so happy for you and proud of you!

  2. Rebecca Fremo says:

    Laura embodies all things wonderful about Gustavus and Gustavus students. She is stellar, and I can’t think of anybody better prepared for this important work. Congratulations, Laura!