Daily Nebraskan editor Gibson selected for Fulbright to South Korea

Jenna Gibson
Jenna Gibson

UNL graduate Jenna Gibson, 2010-11 editor-in-chief of the Daily Nebraskan, will travel to South Korea to work as an English teaching assistant on a Fulbright Scholarship. She also plans to write for an English-language newspaper during her trip.

"I'm excited for the opportunity because I love language, gaining new perspectives and teaching others about my background," Gibson said, of Stillwater, Minn. She graduated May 7 with majors in news-editorial journalism, French and international studies, and a minor in Japanese.

Gibson became interested in South Korea and its culture last year when she was a Lincoln International Networking Community mentor. Her partner was from Seoul, South Korea.

"I've always kind of generally been interested in East Asia, but that was the first time I was interested in South Korea," she said. Gibson said her long-term goal is to work as a journalist with a wire service or a freelance journalist working in under-covered areas, like Africa, and Southeast and Central Asia.

"I really see the importance of having an informed public, and especially when it comes to international issues, I think we don't have an informed public," she said. "I see this gap and I see that there are huge consequences to that, so it's really important to me to work on that."

Gibson has also already done some international reporting. She traveled to Africa twice with the journalism college. In 2008 she went to South Africa, where she wrote stories that became part of a photography book.

"That was an amazing experience because it fits right in with my career goals of becoming a foreign correspondent working in under-covered areas like sub-Saharan Africa," she said. In summer 2010, she went to Zambia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso to write about a UNL agriculture project in those countries.

"Jenna is, above all else, a professional who cares about social justice issues and the world's have-nots," said Scott Winter, assistant professor of news-editorial.

The Fulbright scholarship will help Gibson reach her goal of covering international stories, Winter said. "She's had a lot of experience traveling and working here and there overseas, but this experience will embed her in a new culture, where she must live as it lives for an extended period."

On campus, Gibson spent most of her time working at the Daily Nebraskan. She wrote her first article the first week of her freshman year and ended her senior year as editor-in-chief. She was also involved with Nebraska Press Women and Multicultural students in Media within the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

She spent two summers interning at the Stillwater (Minn.) Gazette and the Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin. She credits her experiences in the journalism college and the Daily Nebraskan for preparing students to get the internships that give students "essential" real-world experiences.

"Working at the Daily Nebraskan gave me the foundation that helped me become qualified for other opportunities," she said.

Gibson is already working with English-language learners in Lincoln. She leads a class of English-language learners through the Lincoln Literacy Council. Adjusting to the culture will teach her how to be in a new place, just as if she was a wire-service reporter.

"I think it will be really important to be independent in a new place where I don't necessarily speak the language," she said. "I have to work on getting to know the people around me and integrating myself in a new community and learning about new people, new perspectives."

After her Fulbright trip, she plans to go to graduate school to study international relations. But first, she is excited to experience a new culture. "I think it will be very different, but that's a good thing for me," Gibson said.

She is the third announced Fulbright at UNL this spring, with more on the way. The announcements are made as the program notifies students of their selection.

The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to foster understanding between the United States and other countries. The U.S. Student Fulbright program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of the 155 countries where the program operates. The Fulbright program is the flagship international education program sponsored by the U.S. government. About 8,000 grants are awarded annually, and about 1,600 of those grants are awarded to U.S. students.

- Christine Scalora, Undergraduate Studies