Q&A With Baylor Fulbright Recipient Jackie Hyland

May 11, 2012
Jackie Hyland

Baylor University alumna Jackie Hyland of Houston is one of five Baylor students and recent graduates who have been selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

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WACO, Texas (May 11, 2012) - Baylor University alumna Jackie Hyland of Houston is one of five Baylor students and recent graduates who have been selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. A 2009 Baylor graduate with a double major in international studies and journalism, Hyland is the recipient of a Fulbright Binational Award, which will allow her to work for an international company while studying international business, business development and social entrepreneurship in Mexico City.

Baylor Media Communications recently conducted a Q&A with each of Baylor's most recent Fulbright recipients.

Baylor Media Communications: How did you find out that you had received a Fulbright and what was your reaction?
Jackie Hyland: I first found out via e-mail, and I was ecstatic! I started jumping up and down, and had to restrain myself from screaming too loud in excitement because I had just walked out of a presentation at work. I had applied for a Fulbright in 2009 and was chosen as an alternate, so this second time around felt like the good news I had been waiting for, for two years.

Baylor Media Communications: Why did you decide to apply for the Fulbright and why Mexico?
Jackie Hyland: Being from Houston, Texas, Mexican and Latin culture were huge influences on my upbringing. I learned bits and pieces of Spanish as a young girl and then fell in love with spicy delicious Mexican food, salsa dancing and the vibrant culture that so many of my friends shared growing up. At 16, I went to Puerto Rico and really got a glimpse of poverty and the bigger world around me, and that trip reinforced my desire to study International Relations with a focus in Latin America. And now after two years in Panama, a smaller yet fast-growing country, I wanted to apply to Mexico to gain a larger and different perspective on Latin American politics, trade, economics and U.S. - Mexican dealings, especially with NAFTA. I also saw the incredible effects that entrepreneurial behaviors and teaching entrepreneurial behaviors in impoverished and rural communities had and wanted to continue to see that from another country's perspective.

The Fulbright is an incredible experience to study abroad for a long term (one school year) and really dive deep into a subject you are passionate about. I wanted this time after a few years of the professional world to really harness in on my thoughts and passions about International Development and Social Entrepreneurship. The program to which I specifically applied to is also unique in that you get the opportunity to work in an international professional setting WHILE studying, a perfect combination. Studying the subjects you are excited about and applying them the next day in real-life projects and businesses the next day.

Baylor Media Communications: What will you study/research in Mexico City?

Jackie Hyland: I will work for a international company based in Mexico City and will be studying part-time international business, business development and social entrepreneurship, with a focus on looking at how investment in Mexican businesswomen in rural and/or low resource urban areas can be harnessed and developed as an effective way to create positive economic and societal impact.

Baylor Media Communications: Why did you decide to come to Baylor for your undergraduate study?

Jackie Hyland: I decided on Baylor mainly because of my acceptance into the Honors College (I loved the curriculum), as well as receiving a very generous amount of financial assistance. I loved the intellectual depth of Great Texts courses, colloquium study, independent readings and finally writing a thesis. I thought that is what college is really about - diving into great literature, exploring new ideas, challenging your own, and creating ways to make how to new ideas happen.

Baylor Media Communications: What have you been doing since graduating from Baylor, and what are your plans after the Fulbright?

Jackie Hyland: Since graduating from Baylor I have been a bit all over the place. :) I worked for a publishing company in Houston right after graduation (May 2009), and taught English to students from Mexico. From there I moved to Panama in January of 2010 to pursue a new job with the international health and development organization, Global Brigades. I wrote part-time for UMonthly Magazine, and also pursued other freelance writing opportunities like writing for Gender Across Borders (blog), and a local magazine in Panama.

While being the Education and Training Lead for Global Brigades, through my work in our business programs, I received a $20,000 grant from the U.S. Embassy to begin Panama's first rural economic mentoring program for women. It connected successful businesswomen in Panama City to businesswomen in rural Panamá in a 9 month program. We had 25 women participating from over nine provinces and two indigenous groups in Panamá. Because of its success, it was absorbed by Vital Voices Panamá and now I focus on helping their expansion of women empowerment programs in rural and indigenous areas.

This work led me to independent academic research on sustainability in Panama, which I presented at the 17th Annual International Sustainability Conference at Columbia University in New York, and to a conference through the U.S. State Department in the Dominican Republic on the program "Pathways to Prosperity," where I participated in a panel on how to expand economic development in Central America. On the side, I volunteer as a mentor a 17-year-old girl through a Panamanian education foundation, where we practice English, study leadership and are creating a business plan to accomplish her dream of opening a low-cost day care center in her community.

After the Fulbright grant, I plan to build upon my graduate studies in Mexico and pursue a dual Master's degree in Public Policy and International Development to be a bridge between local and international business, public policy and social development efforts in the United States and abroad. I hope to continue academic research and hands-on work in economic and entrepreneurship development in Latin America with a special focus on women, U.S. immigrants and indigenous groups.

Baylor Media Communications: Who are some of the Baylor faculty members who helped you in your major, as well as your Fulbright application?

Jackie Hyland: I had some wonderful professors during my time at Baylor who both inspired and challenged my intellectual development: Dr. Sara Stone, Dr. Cassy Burleson, Dr. Charles McDaniel, Dr. Brad Owens, Dr. Tom Hanks and really most, if not all, of the Honors College faculty who were especially extra supportive during my Senior Honors Thesis.

Dean Vardaman has been an incredible source of support and encouragement throughout my first and now second Fulbright application. Dr. Kirsten Escobar spent many hours helping me with my essays and making sure they were perfect and clear; I am incredibly thankful for them.

Cassy Burleson, Ph.D., senior lecturer in journalism, public relations and new media: Jackie was a remarkable journalist with a broad world view, even as a student. But I most remember laughing with her often. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious, and she's a friend-raiser with a heart for humanity. Jackie's recent work in Panama has fostered women in entrepreneurship. She's multi-lingual -- a bright bundle of energy who, even when continent-hopping, has kept Baylor in her circle of love. In short, Jackie's a world-changer, and I can't wait to see her star rise even higher as a Fulbright Scholar.

Charles A. McDaniel, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, Honors College: Jackie's dedication and persistence in completing her Honors Thesis were very impressive. That sense of responsibility and her genuine love for Latin America and its people will be great assets in her graduate studies as she contributes to the resolution of some significant problems in that part of the world. She's a problem-solver who believes in the possibility of real change that can transform lives.