Q&A with Baylor University Fulbright Recipient Brent Salter

May 3, 2013
Brent Salter

Brent Salter, a senior international studies and journalism major from Bulverde, Texas, has been selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) and will spend the 2013-2014 academic year teaching English at a university in Moldova.(Photo courtesy of Nikki Miller)

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WACO, Texas (May 3, 2013) - Brent Salter, a senior international studies and journalism major from Bulverde, Texas, is one of four Baylor students and recent graduates who have been selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Salter received the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) and will spend the 2013-2014 academic year teaching English at a university in Moldova.

Baylor Media Communications conducted a Q&A with each of Baylor's most recent Fulbright recipients, including Salter:

Baylor Media Communications: How did you find out that you had received a Fulbright and what was your reaction?
Brent Salter: I received the email from Fulbright while I was on a weekend trip to New Orleans. The sun was so bright that I could barely read the message on my phone. I saw the first line of the email saying I was a recipient and was too excited to read the rest of it. I immediately started calling and texting my family and friends. I didn't get to read the entire email until later that night.

Baylor Media Communications: Why did you decide to apply for the Fulbright and why did you choose Moldova?
Brent Salter: Initially, I became interested in the Fulbright because of my passion for other cultures and my interest in the scholarship's unparalleled opportunities for learning. During the months I spent preparing my application, I realized an even greater reason why I wanted to apply, though. As I learned more about Moldova, I saw areas where I could personally help people there. I might not be able to build the country's infrastructure or change its economy - at least in the next 12 months - but I can prepare students to do these things and more by helping improve their knowledge of English, cultural awareness, computer skills and other things that will lead them to long-term success after graduation. It is important for them to know they are valuable - as is their country - and just as capable as anyone else of doing great things. I chose Moldova, because I have spent two summers working in communities and orphanages there. The potential I see in the country isn't an idea gained from reading books; it's something I saw with my own eyes as I worked with the kids. They are incredibly smart students, and their creativity and resourcefulness is second to none. As a Fulbright scholar, I will have the opportunity to teach and work with students in higher levels of education, but I still hope to spend time volunteering at orphanages and being active in the community.

Baylor Media Communications: What will you do while in Moldova?

Brent Salter: As a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, I will likely be placed at a university where I will teach on topics that are related to the United States. In addition to advanced English, these might include American history, literature, culture, etc. However, I also hope to conduct some informal research that I can later use as a graduate student. I especially want to study ways to reduce the high emigration rate of bright individuals who leave Moldova and similar countries for education and career opportunities abroad. This "brain drain" really hampers a country's potential for success.

Baylor Media Communications: Why did you decide to come to Baylor for your undergraduate study?
Brent Salter: Baylor is the only university to which I applied; I just knew this is where I wanted to be. During my high school years, I noticed many of the people who I respected - the ones I looked up to - happened to be Baylor alumni. Not only were each of these people successful personally and professionally, but their lives were centered on integrity and faith. I wanted to be the same way; to have that green and gold thread woven through my life.

Baylor Media Communications: What are your plans after Baylor and the Fulbright?
Brent Salter: After returning from Moldova, I plan on attending graduate school and continuing my research of developing countries. Thereafter, I'm interested in international diplomatic or corporate work.

Baylor Media Communications: Who are some of the Baylor faculty members who helped you in your major?
Brent Salter: My heart soared as a freshman when my rhetoric professor, Carrolle Kamperman, said I showed potential for great things and asked if she could introduce me to Dean Elizabeth Vardaman, who would help me understand and pursue academic opportunities such as the Fulbright. Both of these individuals were incredibly helpful during my four years of studies and exploration of what might come next. I am also grateful for the support of professors and advisors in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, the department of political science, and the department of journalism, public relations and new media. I would especially like to thank Professor Rebecca Flavin, Dr. Ivy Hamerly, Dr. Tom Hanks, Dr. Ann McGlashan, Professor Carol Perry and Dr. Sara Stone.

Carrolle H. Kamperman, senior lecturer and associate dean for undergraduate studies in the College of Arts & Sciences: Brent is not only very gifted and hardworking, but also one of the most enthusiastic and positive students I've ever known. He is a wonderful person as well as a great student, and I am incredibly proud of this accomplishment. He is going to do some wonderful things with his life.

Rebecca Flavin, lecturer in political science: I have known Brent since his sophomore year when he joined Model United Nations. Traveling with the students to various conferences, I have the privilege of getting to know them well. Brent possesses a unique combination of intelligence, hard work, humility and affability, which make him an excellent ambassador for Baylor and a worthy recipient of the Fulbright. Moreover, I think he is a student who tries to be a citizen of the world, taking advantage of every opportunity to learn and experience different cultures during his undergraduate career.

D. Thomas Hanks, Ph.D., professor of English and Master Teacher: I knew Brent when he was a first-semester student at Baylor, in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. He was in my small group. He was clearly intelligent and industrious, but his chief characteristic was his warm geniality with his colleagues. Education is in great part a social activity--which is to say, it proceeds more productively the more a group established ties with each other, which amount to what Jerome Bruner--that great educator--calls "the web of social reciprocity." Brent, just because he was (and is) who he was (and is), established ties with all in the class, and facilitated their forming ties with one another. That class was a highly positive experience for me and for my Peer Instructor; Brent was a good part of the cause. He is easily one of the friendliest students we have had here.

Ann McGlashan, Ph.D., director of the Division of German and Russian and associate professor of German: Even as a freshman, Brent was funny, fast-thinking, articulate, and could write really, really well. But Brent is also a kind and compassionate young man who sees class -- and life -- as a conversation rather than a competition. He helped make both the Freshman World Cultures II small group and the senior capstone class a joy to teach. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be his professor, not once but twice, and I know he will go far.

Carol Perry, senior lecturer of journalism, public relations and new media: As Brent proposed a special problems initiative to update Baylor's Wikipedia page, his purpose was to give back to Baylor, as Baylor has given much to him. The information was full of out of date information and inaccuracies. This semester, he edited, rewrote, fact checked and made Baylor's presence current and readable. If a grateful heart is an indication of a happy spirit, Brent's gratitude adds grace to his intelligence.

Sara Stone, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of the department of journalism, public relations and new media: Professors dream about having students like Brent in class. He is a wordsmith, with the unusual ability for someone his age to be able both to speak eloquently and to write with precision. His critical thinking skills, combined with a zest for learning and an innate curiosity about the world, make him one of the best students I've ever had. We will be hearing about Brent Salter for a long time to come.

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.