Maddie Orenstein (BS10), a SESP social policy graduate, has won a Fulbright fellowship for 2013 to study education in Chile. Her focus will be on high school students’ activism for college access.
Orenstein is currently working as a college and career coach at Schurz High School in Chicago. She assists students in the career lab with their resumes, financial aid applications and career searches. During her practicum experience at the Chicago Public Schools headquarters, Orenstein realized that she wanted to work directly with students and focus in on college access.
After graduation Orenstein spent four months in Santiago volunteering in schools, where she saw firsthand many similarities between U.S. and Chilean education. She wrote a paper on the topic and became very interested in the Chilean school system.
“Now I’m fired up about our higher education system,” says Orenstein. She cites the cost of college and the difficulty of the application process as deterrents to a college education for many students. In Chile, “students started a movement to gain free higher education in Chile. They have similar issues to those in the U.S.,” such as with costs and access, says Orenstein.
“I’m dying to go back and research why high schoolers are so empowered to be part of this movement,” she says. She has a 10-month research grant beginning in March but will arrive in Chile in January.
Orenstein doesn’t have any definite plans after her stint in Chile. However, she says she hopes her Fulbright experience “will inspire a next step.” As for a long-term goal, “I would love to start a school someday,” she says.
Fulbright is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world. The flagship program between the U.S. and 155 countries is supported by the U.S. Congress and partner governments worldwide.