VERMILLION, S.D. -- Brittni Badger didn’t let the college experience pass her by.
The University of South Dakota senior has studied in Malaga, Spain. She spent two weeks in China with nine other USD students. She has participated in Greek Life as a member of the Alpha Phi sorority and took part in Dance Marathon, helping to raise thousands of dollars for Children’s Miracle Network. She’s been a devoted member of Big Pal, Little Pal for two years; a youth soccer coach for the Vermillion and Yankton area; and on football Saturdays for two seasons, she cheered on the Coyotes from the sidelines as a member of the USD Cheerleading Squad. And, in the past year, she was named a member of Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society, the premier national honor society recognizing outstanding college seniors.
Badger’s commitment to helping others and being involved in campus and community activities is certainly obvious and that hasn’t gone unnoticed as the elementary and special education major from western South Dakota was named as USD’s 30th recipient of a scholarship from the Fulbright Program – the flagship international education exchange program sponsored by the United States government. In fact, Badger is USD’s 13th Fulbright Scholar since 1998.
“Brittni’s determination to succeed and gain strong skills in Spanish was evident to me immediately,” stated Teresa Piper, an instructor in the Languages, Linguistics and Philosophy Department who served as Badger’s Spanish advisor. “She stood out as one of the best among my students because she understood that in order to gain proficiency in the language she needed to put in extra time, and she did, she worked very hard.”
Thanks to the grant from the Fulbright Program, Badger will be putting her Spanish language skills to good use next academic year as she will travel to Valencia, Spain to teach English. She’s one of only 10 college students applying for the Fulbright to receive a grant to travel to this area of Spain. It will be her second time to Spain but third time studying abroad.
“Studying abroad helps you understand who you are as a person because you learn so much about other cultures,” said Badger, daughter of Joni Boub and Brady Badger and stepdaughter of Brenda Badger, all of Pierre, S.D. “I recommend studying abroad for everyone.”
While she isn’t currently studying abroad, she will travel to Spain in the fall, Badger is busy traveling back and forth to Yankton High School where she teaches modified reading courses to freshmen and sophomores. In addition to her busy schedule as a student, Badger is also balancing the life of a student-teacher, wrapping up her academic priorities before graduating from The U on May 7.
She isn’t sure what she wants to do career-wise once she graduates but more traveling isn’t out of the question.
“I think global teaching is a possibility,” admitted Badger, a 2006 graduate of Lead-Deadwood High School. “When I’m finished (in Spain), I’ll have a better picture of what I want to do.”
No matter what she wants to do, Badger has the determination to succeed, according to Piper, who said it wasn’t uncommon for Badger to push herself – no matter the circumstance – to learn more and more of the foreign language, even when it was most difficult to pick up.
“She often sought additional guidance outside of class and was a joy to interact with,” Piper added. “She was organized and methodical about her questions and enthusiastic about the language. She pushed herself constantly to improve and learn, and I was thrilled when she planned to study abroad, I knew that would take her to the next level of oral proficiency that she was so committed to in class.”
Sponsored by the United States Department of State, the Fulbright Program was established in 1946 to increase a mutual understanding between people of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills. The Fulbright Program also provides funding for students, scholars and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary, and secondary schools. Badger will be teaching at a Spanish school for 20 hours per week. The rest of her time will be dedicated to sharing cultural experiences with the Spanish youth.
A member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Badger is eager to share stories of her ancestors, passed down to Badger by her grandmother, as well as share with the Spanish youngsters other tribal rituals, especially dancing. Her English Teaching Assistantship in Spain will also require Badger to prepare core lessons, tutorials and, most importantly, help others learn English and about life in America. She believes that her recent student-teaching experiences have prepared her for this opportunity outside of an American classroom.
“Student teaching definitely helps you take control of a classroom,” she explained. “It gives you more confidence and I’m really looking forward to seeing how others around the world teach.”
Traveling is actually what brought Badger to USD. Following her graduation from high school, Badger was determined to “be as far away from home as possible.” However, there was one caveat; she was going to stay in the state of South Dakota.
“My goal was to go as far away from home as I could go,” she said with a smile, “but I also had a friend from Yankton. We had met at a church camp when we were 12 years old, stayed in touch and remained great friends through high school. We grew up together without growing up together.”
The two friends, living together off campus as senior classmates in The U’s School of Education program, roomed together as freshmen and although it will be sad to say goodbye, Badger has enjoyed every moment of her college experience.
“I’d have to say I’ve had the ultimate college experience,” noted Badger, who has three brothers, Chris Boub and Drew and Alex Badger. “I tried a lot of new things that I had never done before and I was part of a great program at the School of Education. This (Fulbright) opportunity only enhances what I’ve already done.”
A photo of Brittni is available for download at www.usd.edu/press/news/images/releases/B_Badger.jpg.