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W&L’s Rheannon Loth ’24 Awarded a U.S. Teaching Assistantship to Austria Loth will teach English in Austria for nine months before applying for the Peace Corps.

Rheannon-Loth-600x400 W&L’s Rheannon Loth ’24 Awarded a U.S. Teaching Assistantship to Austria

Washington and Lee University senior Rheannon Loth ’24 has been awarded a U.S. Teaching Assistantship (USTA) to teach English in Austria. At W&L, Loth is a chemistry major. Loth is a native of Afton, Virginia, and graduated from The Miller School of Albemarle.

The USTA Program is administered by Fulbright Austria on behalf of the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research. Teaching assistants are placed in secondary schools throughout Austria to teach English language and linguistic skills, serve as informal cultural ambassadors, and promote mutual understanding between the United States and Austria.

“For me, this opportunity reflects the strength of my support network and how much the people who have helped me along truly care,” said Loth. “To have successfully applied for this position and to effect such a quick change in my career path required trust and confidence in me from everyone around me at W&L, and I am so grateful to be able to tell people that their support is paying off. I could never have gotten anywhere close to this opportunity without their genuine and unwavering support.”

Loth only began taking German her junior year at W&L, and similarly, did not realize she wanted to pursue a career in secondary education until she worked as a mentor for the Virginia Governor’s World Language Academy held at W&L during the summer of 2022.

“Mentoring at the academy made me realize how deeply I care about secondary education and that I want to work with high school students forever,” Loth said. “It is because of the academy, my incredible co-workers there, and the students I got to mentor that I decided to change my career path and pursue teaching opportunities.”

For Debra Prager, associate professor of German at W&L, Loth stood out as a strong USTA candidate because of her cultural awareness and sensitivity, leadership skills and resilience. “I am sure she will be an inspiring an effective teaching assistant, and that she will create both positive formative impressions as well as lasting relationships with her Austrian students and colleagues,” Prager said.

On campus, Loth is a tutor at the writing center and a translator with English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). Loth is also grateful for the support of the university’s faculty and staff, who have inspired her love of learning and encouraged her to pursue her interests.

“Rheannon’s cultural studies have been great preparation for her role as a cultural ambassador in her Austrian school,” Prager said. “She has a strong awareness of her own worldview and openness to others. She is conscious of and fascinated by similarities and differences among cultural groups and has already developed strong cross-cultural skills, and in our class discussions about German and Austrian culture, she was always self-aware, curious, empathetic and respectful. I am sure that Rheannon’s colleagues and students will quickly realize that she appreciates the opportunity not just to talk about the U.S., but to learn more about their ideas, opinions, culture and history.”

With the USTA, Loth will depart in September 2024 for her nine-month program. Upon completion of the program, she plans to apply to the Peace Corps.

The Fulbright Program was established more than 75 years ago to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Washington and Lee University is proud to be included on the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2023-2024 Fulbright U.S. Students for the sixth consecutive year.

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