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Recent grad awarded Fulbright scholarship to Malaysia

Dec 1, 2016

Flagler College spring graduate Alex Banks was recently named Fulbright Scholar by the U.S. government’s prestigious program and will be heading to Malaysia in January to serve as an English instructor in a rural school.

He is the first alumnus to receive the honor. Dr. Ellen Klein, a former associate professor of Philosophy, served as a Fulbright scholar teaching Philosophy at the University of Sarajevo in 2003 and the following year, Dr. Timothy Johnson, Craig and Audrey Thorn Distinguished Professor of Religion, served as a scholar at Dresden Technical University in Germany.

Banks will be placed in a state-run school where he will work with staff to teach English language lessons. He will also work alongside non-governmental organizations to develop community projects that align with the efforts of local officials — all in the spirit of increasing mutual understanding between Malaysia and the United States.

“I am extremely excited to start working and living in Malaysia,” Banks said. “I have already started to talk with fellow Flagler graduates in Spain about their experience teaching English, ideas for classroom activities and what to bring from the U.S.”

Like most graduates, Banks was unsure of the path he would take after crossing the stage. He toyed around with the idea of applying for the Peace Corps, but decided on the Fulbright program after being encouraged by Flagler College faculty. He settled on Malaysia because he “wanted something off the beaten path.”

“Malaysia is appealing as it resides partially in southeast Asia, and as a majority Muslim country, is also heavily influenced by the Islamic world,” he said. “It is in many respects a clash of civilizations, and in turn produces a very interesting culture.”

The United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs oversees the Fulbright Program, a flagship international educational exchange program located in over 160 countries throughout the world.

Fulbright alumni have become heads of state, judges, ambassadors, cabinet ministers, CEOs and university presidents, as well as leading journalists, artists, scientists and teachers. They include 54 Nobel Laureates, 82 Pulitzer Prize winners, 29 MacArthur Fellows, 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients, and thousands of leaders across the private, public and non-profit sectors. Since its beginnings in 1946, more than 360,000 “Fulbrighters” have participated in the program.

Looking down the road, he hopes to purse an academic career, teaching Political Science at a small, liberal arts college.

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