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Three WVU alumni receive Fulbright Scholarships

Three West Virginia University alumni will teach English abroad next year after being awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, allowing them to develop cross-cultural competency, as well as skills to further their career goals.

Riley Imlay
Riley Imlay

Riley Imlay, from Huntington, will travel to the Canary Islands where he hopes to develop his Spanish-speaking skills while teaching English to elementary school students, an age group he already has extensive experience teaching through service with the Peace Corps in Costa Rica from 2018-2020. A 2018 WVU graduate with an English major and biology minor and an Honors College student, Imlay plans to go to medical school and later to work with Doctors Without Borders. Imlay said the skills he’ll learn abroad will be invaluable in helping him continue to develop the ability to relate to his patients, no matter their background.

“Living among other cultures opens your eyes to different ways of viewing the world, challenging your worldview,” Imlay said. “It makes you that much better for it.”

John Kolar
John Kolar

John Kolar will rediscover his family roots with his ETA placement in Poznań, Poland. To prepare, Kolar has been studying Polish as to connect with his students. A December 2019 WVU graduate from Morgantown, who majored in electrical engineering and with minors in music technology and physics, Kolar is passionate about audio engineering and music technology and plans to either start graduate school or work in industry after finishing his award. While he plans on making his career in the United States, Kolar says what he learns abroad will inform his business practices.

“There are big cultural differences here in the United States, as well,” Kolar said. “You have to be prepared for those differences and how to work with them.”

Caroline Toler
Caroline Toler

Caroline Toler will be complete her ETA posting in Málaga in southern Spain, where she will develop her Spanish proficiency—a skill she believes will be invaluable in her future career goal of working with foster children as a family law attorney. Most recently from Grafton, Toler has also lived in southern California and Arizona. She graduated in May 2020 as an Honors College student with degrees in English and Spanish and minors in philosophy and law and legal studies. Toler will use her writing and editing experience to help university students polish their English writing skills at the writing studio there. She is also planning on running an English book club to help pass on her love of reading to her students.

“I’m excited to talk to people who want to learn English as much as I want to learn Spanish,” Toler said. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the awardees will start their awards on a modified schedule starting in January 2021. That schedule may be further modified based on the changing situation worldwide.

“We are so proud of Riley, John, and Caroline. Over the course of the application process, we witnessed their incredible work ethic and commitment to global engagement. Each of these alums already embodies what it means to be a Mountaineer,” said Cate Johnson, assistant director of the ASPIRE Office. “Their past experience on- and off-campus shows their commitment to the University and global community, and we know they will continue to excel as Fulbright Scholars.”

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program, giving students the opportunity to study, teach or conduct research abroad while increasing mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries. This new cohort makes 68 Fulbright scholars for West Virginia University.

The ASPIRE Office supports students who want to compete for nationally competitive awards like the Fulbright Scholarship. Students who are interested in applying can email aspire@mail.wvu.edu to set up an appointment.