Hayden Huffaker — Fulbright Award Recipient

Hayden Huffaker is a student with goals, drive and a remarkable future ahead.

The Fulbright Award
Huffaker, an English and Intercultural Studies (EIS) major at Southeastern University, was recently awarded a Fulbright Award. The Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program provides grants for U.S. students to teach English abroad while serving as cultural ambassadors. It is part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, administered by the U.S. Department of State. 

The Heart of a Teacher
As a student at SEU, Huffaker has been part of Fire English as a requirement for her major. Fire English is a student-led organization on campus that seeks to teach English to those in the surrounding area. EIS students teach the classes, plan the lessons and manage the program. These classes currently have around 10 people from the countries of Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Cuba. Classes are held on Tuesdays and Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on SEU’s campus. Students range in age from college-aged to 70 years old.

“It’s important that we are aware of what is going on in the countries our Fire English students come from. I have grown to love the students and learning about their stories,” said Huffaker.

A Change of Plans
Huffaker, a native of Lakeland, originally came to SEU with plans to pursue a degree in elementary education. However, Huffaker’s deep fascination with Latin American culture compelled her to change her major to EIS, as she felt it was where God was leading her.

While attending SEU, this desire and confidence in her calling grew steadily stronger. In fact, it grew so strong that Hayden took a leap of faith during part of her sophomore year and went to Mexico. There she worked with TEAM, an inter-denominational evangelical Christian missionary organization, teaching English to middle schoolers and holding vacation Bible school classes in a local church. Huffaker’s time in Mexico fulfilled both her internship and second language class requirement at SEU.

“I loved working in Mexico.  I found when I came back to the U.S. that people don’t know how diverse Mexico is. There are so many good things about the country that you don’t hear in the news,” said Huffaker. 

Huffaker chose to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Colombia after her time in Mexico, so she plans to use the award to spend a year working as a teacher’s assistant in Bogota at Corporacion Universitaria Minuto de Dios.  

Huffaker is excited about this next adventure. “I see parallels between Mexico and Colombia, and I’d love to explore their differences and similarities. I want to be able to shed light on the good side of each country.”