Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Mary Ellen Stitt ‘08 awarded Fulbright to teach music in Brazil

<r Mary Ellen Stitt, a Spanish major, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to Brazil for 10 months after graduation, where she will teach at a music school for low-income kids. Although the Fulbright program has yet to inform her of her exact location in Brazil, Stitt said, “I’m hoping to learn a lot of music, Portuguese, and become better at teaching.”

The Fulbright Scholarship awards grants to individuals, including college graduates, who are planning to teach or do research in foreign counties. Although there are many Fulbright programs, Stitt applied and was accepted to the traditional Fulbright Scholarship program.

The Scholarship process requires the applicant to explain their interest in the chosen country as well as what they plan to accomplish there and what impact they hope to have. The applicant pool is large and competitive. Fulbright grant money comes mainly from the U.S. Congress Department of State, but also from hosting countries and institutions that support Fulbright Scholars.

Part of Stitt’s decision to apply came from her general love of travel. “I caught the travel bug at the end of high school. I wanted to see what was out there, and I wanted to explore,” Stitt explained. Regarding her interest in Brazil, Stitt said, “So much more of Latin America is coming here everyday, so it is important to know where it is coming from.”

Stitt further explained her selection of Brazil, saying, “I’ve played a lot of Brazilian music. Brazil is such a rich country right now—it is culturally vibrant. It has an environmentally conscious movement. It is a huge giant in South America—it’s fascinating to me.”

Stitt also cited her love of language and literature as reasons for her selection of Brazil. “I love Portuguese and I’m excited about improving at it…I’m starting to read an enormous pool of literature that is not available here…I feel like I’ll be discovering this gold mine,” Stitt said.

However, this is not her first trip abroad. Stitt has previously traveled to Chile, Nicaragua, and Bolivia as well as Brazil. “In Nicaragua I was organizing a community library and teaching. In Bolivia, I worked on community development, community gardens, composting, recycling, and a library [similar to what I set up in Nicaragua],” Stitt said.

On campus, Stitt has been involved in adult ESL and Food Truth. She said of her Carleton experience and preparation for the future, “Carleton has helped me approach so much, especially the two summers in Latin America [during which] I did projects similar to [what I will be doing] with the Fulbright, so I feel prepared. I feel really ready. It feels like a natural progression because I go back to Latin America every time I get an opportunity,” Stitt said.

Had Stitt not been awarded a Fulbright scholarship, she said, “I was planning, because I didn’t think this was going to come through, to work [as an intern] in public interest law. I think I would have been working with prison reform in the Deep South”.

Stitt’s plans after the completion of the Fulbright Program are similar. “I’ve love to go to graduate school [to study] Spanish and Portuguese literature, and then maybe afterwards to law school to work on prison reform.”

Her parting advice to future Carls who may be interested in similar opportunities is to “apply for things, but if you can’t find a formal way [to travel], just go. Go and find somewhere to work and something to do. [When I was accepted to the Fulbright Program, I remember thinking] they’re going to pay me to play music and live in Brazil?! I applied for things I thought were ridiculous long shots and a lot of times they came through.”

For more information contact Mary Ellen Stitt at [email protected] or visit

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *