Rachael Garnick ’17 Awarded Fulbright
The early education teacher is one of four Fords to be accepted into the prestigious international program for the 2023-2024 academic year.
From her earliest years as a student at William Penn Charter School in Philadelphia, Rachael Garnick ’17 has been driven by a commitment to service.
Simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship—core Quaker values referred to as the SPICES— influenced her volunteerism from grade school through her days as a political science and government major at Haverford. It later triggered her decision to leave a career with a tech company in San Francisco to enter Teach For America and obtain her Master’s in early childhood and special education. Garnick now serves as a 1st grade in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Now Garnick has become one of three Fords accepted into the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2023-24 academic year, which will give her the opportunity to teach primary school in the Canary Islands, a Spanish autonomous community off the northern coast of Africa. She calls her Fulbright win and the changes it will bring “bittersweet.’’
“I have a unique opportunity,” she says, “to live in a place that I would never otherwise have even thought to visit and get to know a culture that I’m really curious about, and grow my language skills and make new friends. That is all super exciting—that’s the sweet.
“But the bitter part is that I’ve established really strong relationships with students, faculty, and families at my current school. And we have really been building on our successes for the past couple of years at this school. We started in a challenging place on the heels of the pandemic, and have been working hard to turn it around and do something great. It’s finally coming to fruition. So it’s going to be hard to leave that. But I am confident that the passionate teachers will step into my role at my school will keep the positive momentum going."
In partnership with more than 140 countries worldwide, the Fulbright Program offers graduate study, research, and teaching opportunities abroad in a variety of academic disciplines to passionate and accomplished graduating college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals from all backgrounds. The work of the Fulbright scholars helps the communities served while providing boots-on-the-ground experiences and opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue.
“I’d always wanted to be a teacher,’’ say Garnick. ”I’ve had the honor to work in many different communities and classrooms and have been exposed to a lot. And it’s always my goal to foster a sense of belonging and try to promote as much cross-cultural connection as I can in my classrooms. I have formed relationships with so many families from different backgrounds, and I've especially gotten a lot of fulfillment from connecting with my Spanish-speaking students. That has led me to look for ways to tie [together] service learning and bilingual education. The Fulbright seems like a really clear next step for me in exploring that.’’’