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DePersia Wins Fulbright to Teach in Austria

Robert DePersia, a 2008 graduate of Washington and Lee University, has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Wels, Austria, for the 2008-09 school year.

“Wels looks beautiful,” says DePersia, “and with a population of 55,000, it will be a perfect fit for me to immerse myself in the city and the language.”

A politics major with a concentration in German from Haddonfield, N.J., DePersia studied in Germany during his junior year. “He returned to Washington and Lee with a new focus and determination to work on his German in order to return to Europe,” says Daniel J. Kramer, assistant professor of German.

DePersia says it was his desire to see the world, experience another culture and to improve his German speaking abilities that inspired him to apply for the Fulbright. “I had not really considered it until the start of my senior year but I was encouraged by the German department and am so grateful for their support throughout the whole process. They went above and beyond the call of duty for me and have shown why W&L is consistently held in such high regard: outstanding, accessible, and dedicated professors.

“The application process was very simple and the professors were all very helpful and more than willing to write recommendation letters on my behalf or discuss the application essays, even on short notice in some cases. I could tell that they really wanted me to get it and were a great resource to have.”

As well as teaching English to young Austrians, DePersia says that, above all, he would like to convey a positive image of the United States in Europe.

Kramer says that is something he has no doubt DePersia will achieve. “What made him such a strong candidate in my mind was his enthusiasm for engaging in discussions about contemporary topics and his ability to think critically about them. I think he’ll be a superb ambassador for America today.”

After his Fulbright year, DePersia hopes to continue his education at the post-graduate level, and eventually begin a career in international marketing.