Southwest alumnus wins Fulbright award

Southwest High School alumnus Kelly Fisher will spend next school year in Norway after winning a Fulbright award. Submitted photo

A Southwest High School alumnus will help teach English in a Norwegian town next academic year after winning a Fulbright award from the U.S. Department of State.

Kelly Fisher, 24, is one of over 1,900 U.S. citizens who will conduct research, teach English and provide expertise abroad next year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The 2012 Southwest graduate will work at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and Ås Upper Secondary School as part of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Fisher, who lives in Arizona, spent the last two years working for WE Schools, a program run by the nonprofit WE Charity that helps students take action on global issues. He said he worked in about 170 schools across the U.S. through the job, an experience that got him thinking of applying for the Fulbright program.

As part of the program, Fisher will work in the town of Ås, which is about 30 minutes from Oslo, Norway’s capital and biggest city. He said he will provide lessons to secondary students on U.S. history and culture and will be working in the writing center at the university.

Fisher said the role is meant for people who are potentially interested in education, noting the opportunity he will have to engage with the Norwegian education system. He noted how he befriended a Norwegian foreign-exchange student when he was at Southwest, which led him to think more about the international and global community and to study abroad during college.

An avid cross-country skier, Fisher said he hopes to participate in the Birkebeinerrennet race, the precursor to the American Birkebeiner race held annually in Hayward, Wisconsin.

Fisher’s mother, Patty Hoolihan, said she’s proud of her son for receiving the Fulbright award and also for reaching out to apply for it. She said Fisher is a people person and a natural-born teacher, noting how he’s loved his work over the past two years.

Patrick O’Connor, who taught at Southwest for 28 years, said Fisher is gregarious and was always thoughtful and engaged in his IB History of the Americas class. He said Fisher as a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison would send him books that he thought were relevant to his class.

“He’s one of those students that makes teaching really easy and a joy,” O’Connor said.

The Fulbright program has given more than 380,000 students and professionals opportunities to study, teach and conduct research abroad since its inception in 1946. The U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board disseminate the awards.