Fulbright scholarship winner on his way to Europe
June 25—Anthony Huerta-Apanco is an area native who attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s School and played soccer. From there, he earned a football scholarship to Villanova University, where he recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science earlier this year, but he’s already planning his next step in life: teaching.
This is because Huerta-Apanco received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant scholarship to teach in Sušice, Czech Republic. It will begin this fall.
“Senator William Fulbright’s intended purpose was to create relationships between the United States and foreign countries abroad,” he said. “Essentially what this grant does, you can choose to do research, study or teach English abroad.”
Huerta-Apanco has always wanted to travel abroad, so he started his application a year ago because Villanova’s application deadline was earlier than the domestic application deadline.
“It’s a very rigorous application and they just want to perfect it and make you the best candidate possible,” he said.
One of the steps in the process was choosing where he wanted to apply. Due to his familiarity with Mexico, he decided not to apply to any country in South America or Spain.
“I knew one day I would want to go back to those places, and it’s an opportunity to see a new part of the world,” he said.
He also had to submit an intention to apply for a scholarship through the Villanova Career Center. From there, he began meeting regularly with faculty to review the process, the grant statement process, and to develop a personal statement of purpose.
“You had to go through several drafts,” he said. “Last summer I was on a scholarship at the University of Minnesota, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and all the while I was taking college-level classes last summer while trying to balance time to work on my draft and work on the app itself, which was very tedious,” he said. “It’s kind of like applying to college, applying for graduate school , which takes a long time.”
The Villanova application deadline was August 25, although the national deadline was October 12.
The extra time was needed to meet with a committee of professors to share with applicants their thoughts on the application process in order to fine-tune the application.
At first glance, his top two picks, South Korea and the Czech Republic, didn’t seem to have much in common.
He chose South Korea because he had a roommate in high school in Seoul and liked the idea of fully immersing himself in that culture.
He also wants to travel and feels that traveling to this region would be restrictive.
“I knew the Czech Republic was in an ideal position between Poland, Austria and Germany,” he said.
In doing so, he wants to see how people learn and observe different ways of teaching. Huerta-Apanco was placed in a vocational and technical school.
He chose to teach because of his belief in the language.
“Growing up in a Spanish-speaking household, I always felt like I was teaching, I always felt like I was translating, I always felt like I was that liaison between my family and the social world here in the United States,” he said. “So I felt like I was an English teaching assistant for a while.”
While in the Czech Republic, he wants to show people that there are different versions of being American, and he hopes that by serving as a Mexican-American he can show how diverse the country is.
“Teaching English has been very important to me in my life and I recognize how important it is, and if I can help anyone else learn a language in any way, it’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
He also sees the opportunity as a way to help him prepare for another future goal: creating educational policy.
“It’s something super important if we want to get to education policy, if you want to get into any kind of leadership or administration position,” he said. “I feel like a lot – at least people today in my experience across different settings in private and public education institutions – that people at the top have never really seen what it’s like. is with the students downstairs and what it is like for the teachers to observe and watch the teacher teaching.”
There, he wants to engage students in sport, which he describes as “universal”.
Because Qatar is only an hour ahead of the Czech Republic, they plan to watch the World Cup matches live and cheer on the United States and Mexico, and they hope they will be able to engage his students, who he described as “athletically oriented,” in this way, and said football is a great sport where he will be.
Sušice is about three hours from Munich, Germany, and less than four hours from Vienna, Austria.
Apart from Mexico, the Czech Republic will be the first country he will visit. The Fulbright scholarship is for 10 months and he will be in Sušice from August to June 2023.
According to Huerta-Apanco, students choose careers earlier and attend designated schools. He also felt confident in the geopolitical climate of the region.
“I’m pretty much at peace with it and they’re very good at dealing with Fulbrighters, especially if there’s an American embassy in the country,” he said. “If anything, we’d be pulled out.”
Huerta-Apanco has postponed her acceptance to Harvard for a year, where her goal is to earn a master’s degree in educational leadership, organization, and entrepreneurship. He wants to focus on educational policy.
“Rewrite legislation and laws and so on to help allocate more resources to different communities and to public schools in general,” he said.
He said one of the mottos of the program is “learning to change the world”.
“I think that says a lot in the sense that I’ll be in a different part of the world living with completely different people than what I’m used to in terms of culture,” he said.
He said coming from Albert Lea, he said he was grateful to the institutions he went to to get where he is.
“I never considered myself above anything, so I think it’s very important to remember where you come from. [while] also recognizing that a place like Albert Lea needs support, which is why I’m getting into education in the first place,” he said. “…There were resources that I didn’t have for myself here that I found in other places, and I want to be able to support students who come from similar backgrounds to me and who may be in that kind of tough time not knowing what they want to do or not knowing who to ask or where to go.