Oak Knoll alumna Christine Butchko ’13 to tutor in Malaysia through Fulbright grant
Just weeks before her graduation from Villanova University last month, Christine Butchko ’13 was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Grant from the U.S. State Department and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board to tutor students in Malaysia.
Butchko, of Morris Plains, a political science major who also earned minors in business administration, marketing and French, will travel to the southeastern Asian country January 2018 and remain there through November to serve as both a teacher’s aide for 20 high school English classes and a cultural ambassador between Malaysia and the United States.
Her work in Malaysia will not be her first as a tutor, as during her time at Villanova she similarly guided students at Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia.
“I was able to cultivate relationships with the kids I tutored,” she said. “To be honest, without my time at Mansion, I doubt I would have a pursued Fulbright in the first place.”
She also pointed to her time studying abroad in France and her own experiences at Oak Knoll’s all-girls middle and high school as significant influencers.
During her senior year at Oak Knoll, she worked with seventh graders at the Cornelia Connolly Center in the Lower East Side in Manhattan for her Capstone Project.
“It was a truly formative experience – getting to interact with the girls there and watch the work that the school does to get their students on their right track,” she said. “Due to the experience of working at a school that strives to eradicate education inequality for well-deserving students, I decided to pursue opportunities that focused on helping underprivileged kids. It also undoubtedly set me on the track to receive a Fulbright grant.”
Butchko expects her experience to be an integral contributor to her future career prospects, as the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority member and peer tutor at Villanova intends to pursue a career in the U.S. Foreign Service or for an international non-governmental organization such as Doctors Without Borders, where she is currently a marketing intern.
“Through the Fulbright program, I will be able to practice and develop the skills, competencies and the necessary empathy to be effective in either career path by acting as a cultural ambassador for the United States,” she said.
Fulbright grants are awarded based on academic or professional achievement, in addition to leadership demonstrated in the recipients’ respective fields. Butchko was awarded one of approximately 1,900 grants given out annually.
Established in 1946 through legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the program has given approximately 340,000 individuals the opportunity to pursue various fields of study and research, as well as efforts in the exchanging of ideas or search for solutions to international issues, according to the program’s website.
Butchko joins an impressive group of Oak Knoll alumnae/i who have participated in the Fulbright program, including Missy Joffe Garber ’85, Rosanna Brillantes-Meyer ’87, Peter Steciuk ’93 and Tara Deubel ’93.