By Allie Ward
Senior Ericka Kriedel can already speak French, Spanish, Chinese and German. Adding Thai to the mix should be no problem.
Kriedel, an English major, will be traveling to Thailand next October backed by a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.
“For the first month, I will be taking a language and culture course, and starting in January, I will teach English to middle school or high school students,” Kriedel said. “I taught English for three weeks in Costa Rica this past summer and I also volunteer for an English as a Second Language program at an elementary school in my town.”
Thailand will be Kriedel’s home for one year, though she is not yet sure if she will stay with a host family. To prepare, Kriedel is considering using Rider’s complimentary Rosetta Stone language software.
“I plan on talking to former Fulbright scholars and seeing what they did to prepare, and I’m thinking about using Rosetta Stone to get a head start on the Thai,” she said. “I’ve been trying to eat some Thai food.”
The U.S. Fulbright Program awards grants to American students so they can study, teach English or conduct research in countries all over the world. According to Dr. Adriano Duque, assistant professor of Spanish and director of External Honors, Kriedel is the fourth Rider student to receive a Fulbright in the last three years and the first to travel to a non-European country.
“[The Fulbright Scholarship] is about empowering people and helping them get to where they want to be,” Duque said. “It doesn’t specifically look at GPA or achievements; it’s about giving opportunities to people who normally would not have those opportunities.”
Though the program does not take special consideration of an applicant’s GPA, Kriedel has excelled throughout her four years at Rider, both academically and athletically. She is a two-time MAAC All-Academic team member and captain of the MAAC Champion women’s swimming and diving team for the second year in a row. Despite all of her commitments, Kriedel doesn’t have any problem with time management.
“[Balancing school and sports] is really a lot easier than you’d expect,” she said. “You only have specific times to get your work done, so it makes you get it done in the small amount of time you have.”
Head Swimming Coach Steve Fletcher said Kriedel, a backstroker, leads by example with her “positive attitude.”
“I think she has a tremendous ability to interact with people,” Fletcher said. “She’s a consistently hard worker, and she doesn’t let little things get in the way.”
Though traveling to a foreign country for an entire year may make others nervous, Kriedel is optimistic about her upcoming trip.
“I’m most excited about living somewhere for a whole year and being able to experience and become a part of a new culture for an extended period of time,” she said.
As for future plans, Kriedel is considering non-profit work, graduate school and, of course, more traveling.
“Right after [my trip to Thailand], I’m hoping to apply for another scholarship to work in Paris,” Kriedel said. “It’s another program through Fulbright — an internship with UNESCO World Heritage Headquarters.”
Duque is confident Kriedel will make the most of her experience.
“She is very goal-oriented and very mature; there are no loose threads in her personality,” he said. “She’s a wonderful girl who has done outstanding things.”
For more information about the Fulbright Program or how to apply, e-mail Dr. Adriano Duque at firstname.lastname@example.org.