May 27, 2008
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Now that she has earned her undergraduate degree from Lehigh, Deborah Ou-Yang '08 can enter the real world. Ou-Yang's first step into life after Lehigh won't begin in a corporate office though; it will start over 6,500 miles away in South Korea as she begins a one-year stint teaching English to school students as a Fulbright ETA (English Teaching Assistant). Ou-Yang, who is believed to be just the ninth recipient of this prestigious honor in Lehigh University's history, becomes the second student-athlete from the rowing program to earn a scholarship from the Fulbright Program in as many years, joining Rebecca Guzman '07 who taught in Depok, West Java this past year.
Ou-Yang, whose parents hail from Taiwan, studied Japanese for two years at Lehigh and is highly interested in learning about different cultures so her selection to teach in South Korea was a natural fit. Quiet by nature, Ou-Yang says that her experiences as a student-athlete and in particular as a coxswain on the rowing team helped prepare her for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"You're forced to take control and take responsibility when you're the cox," Ou-Yang explained. "I made myself responsible for what happened even if no one else did. As the only girl on the men's team I knew I had to take charge and it was certainly a learning experience. I had to do whatever was needed for the good of the team and I know in the future it will be the same way when I'm in the workforce."
"Debi always went above and beyond the call," Lehigh men's rower Joe Loguidice commented. "She was always there for our team."
Ou-Yang, who has aspirations of attending law school or becoming a paralegal upon return from Korea, began the application process for the scholarship during the beginning of the academic year. Her resume and transcript, along with several written pieces, first went to Ian Duffy, a history professor at Lehigh who serves as the Fulbright advisor on campus, and then onto the American committee which narrows down the field of potential scholarship recipients. Ou-Yang's application then moved to the Korean committee for review where it was approved.
"Deb has been a great contributor on the rowing team," Lehigh Director of Rowing Liz Meltzer explained. "She stepped up to the challenge of coxing men's and women's boats over the past four years without complaint or question, acting only in the best interest of the team and eager to fill in any holes."
She added, "Our crew will miss Deb's quiet leadership and positive energy at the boathouse, however we are excited to see such a talented alum of our program go out into the world and
make a difference."
Ou-Yang graduated from Lehigh with high honors as an Asian Studies and English major. She maintained a grade point average of 3.79 and made multiple appearances on the Dean's List throughout her time in South Bethlehem. Ou-Yang is also an accomplished musician who plays the cello.
"A team sport like crew really helps to develop your teamwork and communication skills," Ou-Yang explained. "Two years ago I had thoughts of quitting, but I stayed with it and I'm very happy with that decision. It really turned out to be a perfect way to end my career (in the Grand Final at the Dad Vail Regatta). Everyone in the boat had a great connection."
"Debi was always willing to make sacrifices for the good of the team and was very flexible in terms of fitting her teammate's schedules," rising senior Phil Snyder commented. Classmate Dan Rogers added, "She was willing to work for the best interest of the team at all times."
The Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars, and professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide. The program awarded approximately six thousand grants in 2007, at a cost of more than $262 million, to U.S. students, teachers, professionals, and scholars to study, teach, lecture, and conduct research in more than 155 countries, and to their foreign counterparts to engage in similar activities in the United States.
Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill in the United States Congress in 1945 that called for the use of proceeds from the sale of surplus war property to fund the "promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science." On August 1, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law, and Congress created the Fulbright Program.
The U.S. student program awards grants to U.S. citizens in all fields of study and operates in more than 155 countries worldwide. It awards more than 1,500 grants to U.S. students to travel overseas for one academic year to study, research, or teaching assistantship experience.