From Scrabble to storytelling: Fulbright Scholar's love of language leads him to Taiwan

July 7, 2014

Kyle Renick has always wanted to teach English.

His love of the language and its ability to bring together people came early when an eight-year-old Renick cut his teeth over games of Scrabble with his grandmother, who taught him the importance and power of words. She believed in tough love, almost always winning their games by three hundred points. portrait of ASU graduate Kyle Renick Download Full Image

“I can’t let you win,” she told him. “Because some day, when you beat me on your own, it’s going to mean something.”

Now Renick, recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship award to Taiwan and a journalism graduate from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, wins the games and credits his grandmother for his perseverance and hard-earned victories at Scrabble and outside of it. He has continued to push himself to do his best at any given opportunity, teaching English in the sixth grade and helping teach at an elementary school during senior year of high school.

“In sixth grade, I was assigned to teach a young boy named Dominic,” Renick recalled. “On our last day of tutoring, he gave me a hug goodbye and I knew then that teaching was my calling.”

Keen on taking his knowledge of the English language a step further and challenging himself, Renick enrolled in an associate degree program at Mesa Community College while still in high school. The program allowed him to take advanced English classes alongside a diverse group of students, and helped him tell stories – his and imagined – through impassioned, creative essays.

“I attended a small high school that did not have an extensive roster of extracurricular activities, so I was thrilled at having a writing outlet at college level,” said Renick.

After graduating with an associate degree a week before his high school graduation, the Fountain Hills, Arizona, resident earned a full scholarship to ASU to pursue a journalism degree, where he flourished as a writer and speaker. Unique experiences and hobbies such as writing about politics and pursuing horology – the study of time and clocks – abounded. He also worked as a columnist for ASU’s student newspaper, The State Press, and interned as a reporter at Arcadia News and InMaricopa.

But the more he wrote, the more Renick found himself thinking about returning to his first love, teaching the English language. The then-journalism student learned about the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate, which he earned quickly. The inspiration to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Taiwan came from a dear friend.

“My friend Lorraine always told me stories about her Taiwanese heritage and life in the Asian country, describing the culture as dynamically different from the United States,” he said. “She also spoke of the progressivism in Taiwan, distinct among Asian countries as being the first to attempt to legalize same-sex marriage. This social change fascinated me. The world is fast-moving, and Taiwan is part of the movement.”

According to Renick, even though he didn’t train as a teacher, his experience at the Cronkite School has taught him to communicate well and adapt quickly to evolving situations – qualities that will come in handy during his time in Taiwan. In addition, he has been interning as a teacher of English to refugees in Phoenix via the International Rescue Committee, and researching potential volunteer opportunities in Taiwan in organizations involved in youth development.

“Teaching English in Taiwan is an opportunity to see a different world, meet different people and give my culture and knowledge to others,” he said. “In the past, I have volunteered to help teach children, and I would continue such volunteering in Taiwan.”

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

ASU math professor earns international Marie Curie fellowship

July 7, 2014

An Arizona State University professor is traveling to London to help develop a qualitative theory for describing the long-term, unusual and hard-to-predict behavior in random processes that arise in physics, biology, finance and other areas of science.

Vladislav Vysotsky, an assistant professor in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has won a prestigious Marie Curie Actions International Incoming Fellowship by the European Commission. Top-class researchers from outside Europe are selected for the fellowship to encourage research cooperation between Europe and other parts of the world. portrait of ASU assistant professor Vladislav Vysotsky Download Full Image

Vysotsky will begin his two-year fellowship project this fall at the mathematics department of Imperial College London, which is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world. He will work with professor Alex Mijatovic, an expert in probability theory and its applications in financial mathematics and co-head of Imperial Probability, an association of researchers across scientific disciplines at Imperial College with a common interest in probability.

“We are interested in similar types of problems, and the basis of our collaboration is the complementary nature of our skills,” says Vysotsky. “I am an expert in theoretical probability and discrete-time stochastic processes, while professor Mijatovic specializes in continuous-time processes with jumps, and has well-established relations with financial market practitioners.”

Their research project aims to have an impact on significant practical and theoretical problems of much interest to physicists, mathematicians, financial risk managers and others who are interested in evaluating the risk of random events.

Vysotsky is looking forward not only to working with Mijatovic, but also establishing collaborations with other probabilists and specialists in other areas of mathematics, including the famous group on dynamical systems at Imperial. Another benefit of the location is that London is ideally connected with the world-leading centers of probability theory, including University of Warwick in the UK and Universities of Pierre et Marie Curie and Paris-Sud in Paris.

Vykotsky earned a master of science in mathematics and a doctoral degree in probability theory from St. Petersburg State University, Russia, and was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Delaware.

Rhonda Olson

Manager of Marketing and Communication, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences