Emory & Henry College is known for sending outstanding scholars across the world, but one very significant honor had not been given to a student – until now. Laken Brooks, a senior honors student, is the College’s first Fulbright Student Award winner ever.
“To receive the Fulbright is a very rewarding and humbling experience for me,” said Brooks. “Like many graduating students, I’ve had to face rejection in the process of applying to graduate school. When I first found out, I can’t explain the sheer excitement I felt.”
The Fulbright Program awards approximately 8,000 grants annually. Roughly 1,900 U.S. students, 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars, and 900 visiting scholars receive awards, in addition to several hundred teachers and professionals.
Brooks, from Lansing, N.C., is majoring in English with a certificate in secondary English education and a minor in Gender and Text.
Through the Fulbright program, Brooks will participate in the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program in Poland this fall where she will work with various departments at Polish universities teaching English as a second language.
Besides teaching, Brooks will have time for independent study and research. She says she is interested in exploring the government in exile of Poland that formed in the aftermath of the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, and the subsequent occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, with a focus on the impact this event had on shaping the national literature.
As she prepares to graduate in May, Brooks looks back at her four years at Emory & Henry College and credits the college for helping her find her true self.
Emory & Henry helped teach me to be comfortable in the face of many situations that were outside my comfort zone. It’s something I never thought a school could do.Laken BrooksStudent
Brooks has previously been honored with the Virginia Collegiate Honors Council’s Honors Scholar of the Year award, presented papers at numerous academic conferences, published poetry both in journals and a chapbook, and has been one of the most effective leaders in E&H’s Peer Mentors program history.
In addition, Brooks has been presented the National President’s Call to Community Service Award for completing more than 4,000 hours of community service. She completed this service in a wide range of settings, including work with regional thrift stores.
She devoted her sophomore summer creating a unique application that allows women who feel threatened by domestic violence to read advice and directly access helplines away from the prying eyes of abusive partners.
Brooks also has served in a wide range of leadership positions on campus. She is a designated trainer and leader for the “ByStander” training offered to residence advisors, orientation leaders, and others; a tour guide for the Admissions Office; and a leader within an intra-faith study group.
Recently, she presented her first Ted Talk on the topic of math anxiety.
“As someone who struggles with math anxiety, I recognized the importance of math to literature, especially poetry, so I started studying how poetry can help to reduce math anxiety.”
Following her time in Poland, Brooks hopes to pursue graduate studies with the ultimate goal of teaching English at a college or university.