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Waterbury resident latest WCSU student to receive Fulbright award

By Western Connecticut State University

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Peggy Stewart (contributed photo)
DANBURY, CT - Waterbury native Krysta Scriven had never traveled beyond the eastern United States before attending Western Connecticut State University as a freshman in 2015. Currently a senior preparing to graduate in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing and a minor in Linguistics, Scriven has racked up plenty of frequent flier miles during her four years at WCSU with educational experiences that have included stops in Bulgaria, England, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Greece and Ireland.

Now, thanks to her receipt of a Fulbright Fellowship, Scriven will return to Bulgaria next September to serve as an English language teaching assistant at a top-rated high school in Vidin, Bulgaria. She is the sixth WCSU student in the past decade to earn a coveted Fulbright award.

Scriven, a graduate of Waterbury’s Kennedy High School, initially enrolled at WCSU as a science major, but soon switched her focus to writing and later, linguistics.

“I started with what I thought would make money and be practical,” she said. “I switched to what I like and enjoy.”

While at WCSU, Scriven participated in the university’s Kathwari Honors Program; had an internship in the WCSU Office of Publications and Design; and served as a Teaching Assistant, a Student Ambassador in the Admissions Office and is an RA in a residence hall. She’s also a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success and has won the Ronald K. Goodrich Award for Outstanding History Based Research Essay and the Peter Lyons Award for University Service.

As a professional writing major, she worked as a tutor in the university’s Writing Center in the Ruth A. Haas Library. It was there during her freshman year that she first saw a poster for a travel opportunity with Assistant Professor of Social Sciences Dr. Jeannie Hatcherson to volunteer over the summer to work at an orphanage in Bulgaria. Scriven said she saw the poster around the same time she was formally changing her major.

“I was in the midst of thinking about changing my major, and I was a little lost at the time,” Scriven said. “The trip cemented my career choice — working with children. It also led to the discovery that I’m really into linguistics. I taught myself Bulgarian so that I could better communicate with the children there and help them more.”

Hatcherson said, “I met Krysta as a 19-year-old freshman when she volunteered for the summer service learning trip to Bulgaria that I had organized through Corawill. Everything about international travel was new to her, so she booked a flight with Emilia, a well-traveled graduating senior of Polish descent, and the two shared a room throughout the trip.

“Since that first experience, I have watched Krysta blossom into an accomplished academic in the Honors Program; a peer leader and teacher, sharing her knowledge, guiding and creating overseas opportunities for other students; and an empathetic, compassionate volunteer caring for people and animals by volunteering in Bulgaria and Greece. That first trip ignited Krysta’s love for travel and languages. The next semester she studied abroad as part of the International Student Exchange Program in England, using her free time to explore Europe.”

Scriven also engaged in a sea turtle conservation experience in Greece, shepherding hatchlings into the sea.

Professor of Writing, Linguistics and Creative Process Dr. Patrick Ryan was one of Scriven’s writing instructors and authored one of her Fulbright recommendation letters.

“Last summer, Krysta combined her compassionate impulse to help others with her deep interest in other cultures when she organized a trip for WCSU students to Vratsa, Bulgaria, where they volunteered at an orphanage,” Ryan said. “Krysta engaged a native speaker of Bulgarian to teach her the language, an undertaking rendered more difficult by its use of the Cyrillic alphabet. In addition to studying Bulgarian, she took courses in Arabic, undeterred by current prejudices against Arabic culture. These are examples of what made her an ideal candidate for the Fulbright.”

Scriven’s fourth trip with Hatcherson to Vratsa, Bulgaria, will take place this summer. When fall arrives, she will begin her Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Vidin, Bulgaria, about an hour train ride away from the orphanage.

Scriven, of course, has already figured out how to visit the children she has come to love in Vratsa, which comes as no surprise to Hatcherson.

“I was very impressed that after the first year, she revitalized the Humanitarian Travel Club,” Hatcherson said. “After the summer 2017 trip, she worked with the Honors Club to secure funding for 20 students who traveled to Bulgaria in 2018. For the summer 2019 trip, she worked closely with this year’s sponsor, the WCSU Rotaract Club, and will again be an adviser for the group, making this her fourth trip with Corawill to Bulgaria. At the Assen Zlaterov Social Home in Vratsa, Krysta is wonderful with the children. She is their champion, coach and English teacher.”

After her Fulbright year in Vidin, Scriven plans to head to Guatemala as part of another sea turtle conservation effort and to teach local children English. From there, she plans to obtain a Master of Arts in Teaching in order to move to Dubai to teach English there.

“There are so many beautiful and fascinating countries,” Scriven said. “I want to be an English teacher all over the world. I want to be a nomad.”

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