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ASU student awarded Killam Fellowship from Fulbright Canada

Jenna Smith
September 10, 2013

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

Jenna Smith, a Barrett, the Honors College student and classics major in the School of International Letters and Cultures in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has been granted a prestigious Killam Fellowship through Fulbright Canada to study at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada during the Spring 2014 semester, where she will take courses in the university’s classics program.

ASU is one of the top 10 producers of Fulbright Scholars in the United States, and is tied with Yale University and the University of California at Berkeley for fifth place.

Smith applied for the award on the advice of Janet Burke, associate dean for national scholarship advisement at ASU. Hearing about the experiences of previous Killam Fellows gave her even more inspiration to apply.

The Killam Fellowships Program provides an opportunity for exceptional undergraduate students from universities in the United States to spend either one semester or a full academic year as an exchange student in Canada. Students may participate in the program either as a direct exchange student (registering at their home university, paying their home fees and attending the host university as an exchange visitor) or as a self-placed visiting student (registering at the host university and paying host tuition fees). Students also have the opportunity to travel the country, enhancing their cultural and educational experiences.

Smith was inspired to begin learning Latin and classics in high school. “My Latin teachers in high school were the most passionate, intellectual and interesting people,” she says. “I admired them for their ability to think logically and creatively.” ASU's high-quality academic programs in classics, student organizations and study abroad programs with a classics focus motivated her to choose ASU to continue her studies in Latin. She says she has never regretted her decision.

The School of International Letters and Cultures offers majors in classics and classical civilization, a certificate in classical studies, as well as a study abroad trip to Naples, Italy, where students have the opportunity to explore Pompeii and some of the best-preserved Greek architecture in the world.

The school also supports a very active classics community. The undergraduate student organization Solis Diaboli brings together ASU students with similar interests in ancient civilizations of the classical world. The club frequently sponsors lectures by classics professors, holds classics-themed movie nights, organizes tutoring sessions and participates in fun events like the Homecoming parade and block party toga contest.

As a student in the School of International Letters and Cultures, Smith gained invaluable experience being exposed to not only Latin and classics, but multiple languages and cultures. The school is unique in that it offers courses in more than 20 languages and cultures, making it one of the most dynamic international humanities programs in the United States. 

“The school always stresses the importance of learning new perspectives, trying new things and stepping outside one’s comfort zone,” Smith says. “I hope to do just that during my time abroad.”

During her exchange program, Smith hopes to learn more about Canadian culture and the Canadian way of life.

“I want to travel around the country and develop relationships with the students at the university in order to continue to expand my knowledge and understanding of different worldviews and perceptions,” she says.

As an Arizona native, she admits that learning to live in the Nova Scotia winter will be difficult. However, she says she is really excited to be able to meet new people while living in Canada and that she has “never felt so welcomed” to a different kind of environment. 

While at Dalhousie, Smith will be taking classes on Alexander the Great, the history of philosophy and philosophy of language, and a course dedicated to Plato and Aristotle’s works and legacies. She says she chose the university “because they have a phenomenal classics program with ongoing research projects.”

Smith plans to graduate from ASU in May 2015 with dual degrees in classics and philosophy. She will go on to pursue a Fulbright grant to teach English abroad and will apply to the Teach for America program.

Her two biggest pieces of advice to incoming college students?

“Study abroad!” and “Meet with your advisors because they are here to help you.” By following her own advice, Jenna is well on her way to graduation with real-world experience and cultural intelligence to add to her credentials. Smith says her advisors and professors at ASU “have supported me constantly in each of my endeavors and inspire me daily.”

Written by Daniel Lennie, communications intern, School of International Letters and Cultures. 

The School of International Letters and Cultures and the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies are academic units of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.