ARTBURST WRITER WINS FULBRIGHT SCHOLARSHIP
Artburst writer Shanieya Harris joined the team through our mentorship program while a student at Barry University. Photo courtesy Shanieya Harris.
The clock was ticking. It was down to the last day, the very last hour, and Shanieya Harris continued to stare at her computer screen. And all she had to do was press submit.
Harris was applying for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant scholarship. The program offers young professionals and recent college graduates the chance to travel to a foreign country and serve as assistants to local English teachers.
For applicants like Harris who are fluent in another language, it is the perfect opportunity for those looking to immerse themselves in the language and culture of another country.
Her dream was to go to Spain and, if accepted, Harris would be in good company. Former Fulbright scholarship winners include heads of state, teachers, cabinet ministers, artists, scientists, and over 89 Pulitzer Prize winners and 62 Nobel Laureates.
Though she was excited to apply, the process appeared intimidating. Besides, she thought to herself, Who was she kidding? There was little reason they would pick her anyway, she told herself.
“There was a lot of self-doubt,” admits Harris, who graduated in May from Barry University. “This is a prestigious award. A once in a lifetime opportunity and I thought, “Do I really have what it takes?”
At one point, it seemed that only the heavens could help her. And that’s exactly when her friend (who is also named Heaven) stepped in. A quick pep talk from her helped to bring Harris over the finish line.
“I decided that I was not going to let my fear drown out my passion,” Harris declared. Good thing she persevered, because after submitting her application she was notified that she was chosen as a semi-finalist.
She credits writing for Artburst as one of the main reasons her Fulbright application made it through. Harris initially joined the Artburst team after Dr. Sean Erwin, her philosophy professor, suggested that she enroll in their Artburst Miami Arts Journalism Mentoring Program. As a spoken word poet and screenwriter, she thought it would be a fantastic opportunity.
“Well, I like writing. I like art. It’s like the best of both worlds right? I’ll give it a try,” she remembers thinking.
Harris calls the mentorship “phenomenal”. “I found out about a lot of museums that I didn’t know about. It was a beautiful and amazing experience,” she recalls.
“One of the first articles I got to write was on the “Feels Like 97°” [exhibit]. I still connect with a lot of the artists that I got to meet there. They’re a breath of fresh air.” Harris describes how she enjoyed getting to see art that she loved, then talking with the artists to writing about her experiences firsthand. The entire process was the catalyst for finding new ways for personal growth.
“I just kept looking for different ways that I could better myself and make a change in the world,” she continued. “That’s how I stumbled upon Fulbright, but like I said, at first when I found it, it seemed a little bit out of my league.”
The Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board clearly thought otherwise. After being notified that she was a semi-finalist that’s when a painful and nail biting exercise began. She wondered whether she would make the final cut.
Harris was at Barry University’s Studio for Languages and Cultures when she finally got the news. Nervously, she brought her laptop to the bathroom to read the email. She figured It was the best place to do so. There was no need for everyone to see her tears. She opened the email, read it and thought she was going to pass out.
She ran out and informed everyone of the results. “We were all jumping and screaming, “You’re going to Spain!” said Harris.
That’s when it truly hit her, “Yes. I’m going to Spain.”
You can read more blog posts and short reviews written for Artburst Miami by Shanieya Harris HERE.
ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com.