Our Stories

Senior Earns Fulbright

Spain has fascinated Ali Maki '09 since she was in junior high, when her older sister studied abroad in Granada and shared tantalizing stories about the people and their culture.

So when Maki finally reached college at Willamette, she immersed herself in learning about the country - she studied in Granada for a semester, majored in Spanish and art history and wrote her theses on little known Spanish sculptor Julio Gonzalez, and on gender roles in flamenco.

Now as she graduates, she heads back to Spain again, this time for nine months through a prestigious Fulbright Grant. The Fulbright program aims to foster mutual understanding among nations through education and cultural exchanges, sending more than 800 Americans annually to study and conduct research in more than 150 countries.

Maki eventually plans to enroll in graduate school, and she knows the Fulbright will help her combine the two interests she hopes to develop into a career: art and international education. For the Fulbright, she will be teaching English in a bilingual high school in Madrid.

"I took a class on Japanese art history during my freshman year at Willamette, and I was hooked," she says. "I think art can function well as a cultural bridge when there is a language barrier, because art is a universal language."

Even after she chose her double major, Maki says Willamette's supportive faculty and liberal arts environment allowed her to explore multiple subjects. "I like the fact that we're required to take so many different courses here," she says. "Even though I studied art history and Spanish, I took several physics classes because I like physics and math. The professors are willing to help you even if you're not majoring in their field."

In addition to her studies, Maki competed on Willamette's cross country and track and field teams. "Running helped me focus better on school," she says. "Training every day gives you a sense of structure that transfers to your school work. Running also gives you a lot of time to think."