“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
― The late William Arthur Ward, author and educator
MURFREESBORO — David Owens is on a journey to become an educator who inspires.
The Middle Tennessee State University doctoral student clearly remembers the first day he spent outside the U.S. in Quito, Ecuador.
“The whole vibe of a new culture and the opportunity to teach and learn in a new place sparked an adrenaline boost that made me feel alive,” he said.
Owens once again will experience that adrenaline rush when he arrives in Brazil next spring to begin a nine-month Fulbright English teaching assistantship.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
During his time in Brazil, Owens plans to work with locals on science and farming projects and volunteer where needed. He also looks forward to participating in some of the local pastimes for which he, too, shares a passion — Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, rock climbing, surfing and playing soccer.
Owens’ vast wealth of knowledge and experience should serve him well during this endeavor. In 2001, he taught biology in Ecuador and has spent several years since teaching science in high school and university settings. He also spent time in 2011 in India, volunteering at a young men’s home, becoming certified as a yoga instructor and is learning to speak Portuguese.
What truly motivates Owens is sharing knowledge and its usefulness.
“My ultimate goal in education is to expand my knowledge and abilities so I can help grow ‘whole’ learners,” he said, “that is, students who walk away from their learning experience with a stronger character as well as an increased knowledge, one which they can apply to help ensure success on whatever path they choose in life.”
Owens’ extensive work orchestrating and leading expeditions with Outward Bound and the Chadwick School’s wilderness program should help him facilitate character development among the people with whom he has the opportunity to interact. Both programs have taken him across the U.S. and into South Korea, leading participants of all ages on a journey of self-discovery.
Owens said he believes that through high-impact activities — such as whitewater rafting, multiple days of backpacking and outdoor living, and rock climbing — participants develop communication and leadership skills and find sources of strength from within of which they were previously unaware. He hopes that these tools will help him uncover similar strengths in the people he encounters in Brazil through the Fulbright program.
Owens, a Memphis native, is a student again. He recently began a doctoral program in math and science education at MTSU.
“This degree program, coupled with a Fulbright experience, will help prepare me to reach my dream of helping others achieve goals, while expanding my own horizons as an instructor, a traveler, and as an ambassador of goodwill,” he said.
Owens holds a bachelor’s degree in biology education and chemistry from MTSU and a master’s degree in ecology from the University of Nebraska.
This marks the fourth consecutive year MTSU has had at least two students awarded a Fulbright opportunity. Owens is the 11th MTSU student to receive this honor.
Students are encouraged to learn more about the Fulbright by attending workshops Wednesday, Nov.13. Two sessions will be offered:
• 11:30 a.m. to noon — Boren/Gilman/Fulbright scholarships, Student Union Room 210; and
• 1 to 1:30 p.m. — Boren/Gilman/Fulbright scholarships, Student Union Room 210
These workshops are part of the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Education Abroad Fair Nov. 13. Contact the Office of International Affairs at 615-898-2116 for more information about the fair.
For more information on applying for a Fulbright award or other international awards, contact Laura Clippard at 615-898-5464, email her at Laura.Clippard@mtsu.edu or visit www.mtsu.edu/honors/ufo/index.php. She serves as academic adviser and undergraduate fellowships coordinator for the University Honors College.