Danielle Capano first got the urge to teach when in high school. As part of a volunteer non-profit program to teach immigrants English in a church basement, she found the true power of language.
“I realized how much these lessons would not only give them an understanding of the language but also an opportunity at a better life,” she said.
After coming to West Virginia University, she continued to pursue a career in teaching. In fact, her passion for knowledge of the subject only continued to grow.
And in May, all of that hard work throughout six years of education at WVU paid off, as she was named a Fulbright Scholar.
Capano, who graduated with a Master’s degree in secondary English education last December and also has an undergraduate degree in English literature from the University, is a record fourth honoree from WVU in one year.
“We are so proud of our latest Fulbright Scholar,” said WVU President Jim Clements. “When our students earn these kind of honors, it brings great pride to our faculty and staff, who do such a great job mentoring our students. Danielle’s hard work and love for learning helped her earn this incredible opportunity, and I wish her all the best as she travels to Turkey.”
She will travel to Turkey and be a teacher’s aid in English. She will be a point of reference to other teachers in terms of the English language and will develop an English language literary journal – either in print or online form – as a real-life experience for her Turkish students.
“It’s going to give me an experience and understanding of teaching English that I would never be able to receive in the United States,” she said. “It’s going to make me a better teacher because I will be in a completely new learning environment with its own unique culture.”
While at WVU, Capano had her share of experience writing and teaching. She wrote for The Daily Athenaeum, The Dominion Post and Calliope, the English department’s literary magazine. In addition, she focused her graduate studies toward international and immigrant students in the classroom. She also taught Italian as a graduate student and English with the local chapter of United Way.
“I’ve always shown a dedication to English teaching,” she said. “I started a long time ago and I want to dedicate my life to teaching. This Fulbright experience isn’t just going to go on my resume. It’s something that I’m going to take with me the rest of my life and professional career.
“Every experience you get helps you grow not only professionally but as a person. This experience will really help me grow as a person. I’m putting myself out of my normal comfort zone. It’s a personal challenge.”
After applying in September with help from the ASPIRE office, Capano found out she was a finalist in March. She heard in the middle of May that she was awarded the prestigious scholarship.
“I almost felt like this was my big break. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone I knew. I can’t wait to get there and get in the field,” she said. “I’ve already started learning Turkish and checked out books and printed out the recommended reading list.”
Capano hopes to take her experiences from Turkey and apply them to situations in the U.S. Her ultimate goal would be to work with the Institute of International Education to give other students and scholars the opportunity to take part in the Fulbright program. In addition, she wants to work in American public schools teaching English as a second language and ultimately open her own school.
“The Master’s program at WVU really gave me a strong knowledge base of curriculum and instruction,” she said. “It really inspired me to do more and later down the line I’d like to take all of my experiences and studies and open my own school.”
Capano, a Potomac, Md., native, said her experiences at WVU exceeded her expectations and allowed her to be better prepared for the Fulbright opportunity.
“Growing up, I went to private school outside of D.C. and I really just wanted to try something new,” she said. “There, I immediately got involved with different organizations on campus and met some amazing professors and advisers that challenged, motivated and inspired me. WVU really exceeded my expectations.”
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