York Professor Named Fulbright Fellow

Dr. Linda Gerena, an associate professor in the Department of Teacher Education at York, has just been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship.

Dr. Gerena joins an impressive list of York Fulbright Fellows sprinkled throughout the college’s 45-year history. She will fulfill the Fellowship in Spain for the spring 2012 semester.

Dr. Ormond Brathwaite, a chemistry professor at Cuyahoga Community College and a member of York’s Class of ’82, has also been awarded a Fulbright and will spend his stint at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, in St. Lucia, helping them to develop their science curriculum in preparation for university status. It will be the island nation’s first university system.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gerena will be working with the Universidad Autonoma in Madrid, supporting their teacher education faculty in bi-lingual education.

Dr. Gerena and York are in good company. Faculty members from an extensive list of colleges and universities across the United States have received the award again this year, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton Universities and York’s sister colleges across CUNY and SUNY as well.

Gerena is the proud product of a CUNY education, having earned her undergraduate degree in Spanish Language and Literature at Brooklyn College in the 1970s. She later taught as a first grade bi-lingual teacher in Coney Island, Brooklyn early in her career and earned a Master’s degree in bi-lingual elementary education at California State University, LA. She would later earn a second Master’s -- at New York University -- in Linguistics; and a dual PhD in Language and Cross Cultural Education/Educational Policy and Bilingual Education at San Diego State University and the Claremont Graduate University simultaneously.

“I am proud and honored to represent York College,” she says. “My participation will add to the already-impressive list of CUNY faculty from Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Queens College [that] have received this prestigious award. I believe my participation as a Fulbright Fellow will assist York College in continuing to promote its exceptional faculty and administration in the national and international arena of public relations.

Asked why she chose Spain for her semester fulfilling the Fulbright mandate, Dr. Gerena explained the necessity.

“I had attended a conference in Spain and saw this need for bi-lingualism,” she said. “I wish we had more here (in the US). Bi-lingualism is known to advance cognitive development, creativity and linguistic manipulation. It is a win/win. There are no negatives and we need to grow it in our own back yard.”

Gerena’s is also delighted about the cache this honor brings to her department. “We are a small department,” she says of the Department of Teacher Education. “We are trying to grow it and I hope the impact of this honor will benefit York College, our current and future students and my department.”

Indeed, her department chair, Dr. Lindamichelle Baron, praises Gerena, who came to York a mere three years ago.

“The Department of Teacher Education has been evolving into a major ‘big league player’ says Dr. Baron. “Even though we are at this point, one of the smaller departments at York College, thanks to major grants written by our faculty members, we are one of the most productive. Even before this well-deserved honor, Dr. Gerena brought her knowledge and passion for English Language Learners to curriculum changes that are now embedded in all of our language based foundations and methods courses while she also produced scholarship important to the education profession.”

The Fulbright program named in honor of US Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 has awarded “approximately 300,000 Fulbrighters” and comes to York again at a fortuitous time.

"Linda's receipt of the Fulbright is an outstanding tribute to her as teacher and scholar and it reflects positively on her department and the college as a whole, says Dr. Ivelaw L. Griffith, York’s provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. “It also demonstrates that the College's simultaneous expansion of our academic human capital and extension of the perimeters of research and scholarship have high payoff value for individual faculty and the college overall.”

Dr. Griffith also views this as an opportunity for further growth at York.

"Several York faculty have landed Fulbrights in the past but we haven't had this signal honor in a while,” he noted. “My hope is that Linda's achievement will rekindle a pursuit of this and similar areas of scholarly excellence by other colleagues, as these high honors enrich the lives of both our faculty and our students."

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