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Alyssa Surina

Posted: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Alyssa Surina has been awarded a Fulbright grant.  Alyssa Surina has been awarded a Fulbright grant. 
Alyssa Surina has been awarded a Fulbright grant. 

For the sixth year in a row, Western Kentucky University students have been awarded Fulbright grants to spend a year studying and working abroad. May 2012 graduates Mario Nguyen of Dallas and Alyssa Surina of Santa Clarita, are the latest recipients.

Surina is a math and economics double-major. She has been awarded a Fulbright Research Grant to study mathematics education in Xi’an, China. Surina is a member of the WKU Chinese Flagship Program and has studied in China three times while a WKU student. She continued her language education at CET Harbin in China this summer.

“At WKU, I was given unique opportunities to study in China, and to tailor my classes to develop the analytical skills necessary to understand the global economy,” Surina said. “The Fulbright will be a continuation of the research preparation and international focus I cultivated at WKU.”

Surina’s research examines how the Chinese education system influences teacher and student motivation. She plans to spend four months studying math pedagogy and working with researchers in an experimental education lab in Xi’an. Afterward, she will spend six months observing elementary school math teachers in the classroom.

The goal of her project is to create a professional development seminar for teacher networks in the United States geared towards improving math education.

“While I am certainly not the first American to study China’s education system, I believe that my background in economics and institutional change will give me a more accessible and actionable perspective on why students in China continue to outperform students in the West on standardized math tests,” she said.

Surina found the application process sometimes difficult but enlightening.

“Applying for the Fulbright helped me learn how to better communicate my research goals and strategies. It’s certainly a long application process, but you learn a lot about yourself through it,” she said.

After her Fulbright year, Surina plans to enroll in a graduate program in international economic development.

She will build on the research experience and insight into how institutions affect performance she gains in China, and hopes to work with the World Bank in the future, helping develop solutions for the alleviation of poverty.



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