PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University linguistics major and Spokane native Ava Beck will study at Aberystwyth University in Wales for three weeks this summer, thanks to a Fulbright Summer Institute to the U.K. award.
Beck is one of around 60 U.S. students selected to undertake short academic and cultural programs at any of nine hosting institutions throughout the United Kingdom. At Aberystwyth, on that country’s western coast, Beck will join fellow Americans exploring contemporary issues in identity and nationhood “through the lens of Wales.” She will attend classes in the university’s Dept. of International Politics, explore the city, visit the National Library of Wales, and learn a bit of the Welsh language.
“I am eager to learn and study during the experience and apply that knowledge to my future studies,” Beck said. “But I am also eager to just experience a new place and culture. I hope to grow in obvious and subtle ways and to bring this experience back with me to share with my peers as well as those I am closest to. It really is an exciting opportunity.”
The aspiring speech language therapist chose to apply to the Aberystwyth program for two reasons. She is interested that Wales is striving toward bilingualism in English and Welsh. Plus, she believes her academic area of interest—linguistics, or the study of the nature and structure of human language—is “irrefutably connected” to the summer themes of identity and culture.
She said, “Language, identity, and culture influence one another in ways we are only beginning to discover…understanding these relationships academically is one thing, but seeing how they manifest themselves in everyday life through experiential learning (in Wales) is why I want to be a part of this program.”
Beck, a National Merit Scholar and Honors College member, originally planned to study nursing at WSU but switched to linguistics after learning about language development in a human development course. “It excited me to start thinking how language and culture are related, and how we talk to each other influences our relationships.”
Beck is also pursuing minors in Spanish, psychology, and global studies, and will earn a certificate to teach English as a foreign language. She works as a research assistant in the Childhood Cognition Lab in the Dept. of Human Development, and as an assistant in the College of Arts and Sciences’ dean’s office.
Beck is the oldest of five children in the family of Cory and Alison Beck, respectively the director of fiscal software for Mead School District 354, and a part-time homemaker and agricultural business analyst. Beck’s siblings include: Joseph, 16; Theo, 14; Eli, 8; and, Emi, 6. She graduated as 2017 class valedictorian from Spokane’s Lewis and Clark High School, and was selected to serve as a Spokane Lilac Festival Princess.
Beck is the fourth WSU student to receive the summer institute’s award; three students, also from Honors, received it in 2014.
The summer institutes form part of the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission’s work to promote leadership, learning, and empathy between nations through educational exchange.