It was a secret that formed around 10 kiwis, a borrowed rugby ball, four essays paired with one photograph – and the chance of a lifetime.
On Oct. 27 Castleton junior Emma Faucher was surprised by her family, friends, and the representatives of Go Overseas with a $15,000 scholarship funded by the New Zealand National Government for a study abroad experience to New Zealand in the spring semester.
According to Go Overseas officials, Faucher was selected out of 1,089 applicants nationwide because of her creative photo submission – which put those 10 kiwis to creative use – and her exemplary essays.
“I can’t believe I won out of that many people, “ Faucher said after composing herself.
Anticipating a meeting for community advisors about a policy change, Faucher made her way to the Campus Center and burst into tears at the sight of her mother, Terri, father, Michael, and brother Joey in a sea of Spartan supporters.
“There’s probably nobody else that deserves this as much as she does, “ said Residence Life Area Coordinator Shaun Williams.
As Faucher’s direct supervisor in the Residence Life Department, Williams said her application was a proper portrayal of her passion and work ethic. These are qualities he said he will miss in her absence next semester, but he added that he was excited for what the future holds for Faucher.
“She’s a big part of our staff. She’s a big part of our family. You can’t replace her,” he said. “This is a great experience and she’s going to take advantage of that. It’s going to change her life.”
Inspired to be entirely immersed in another culture, Faucher said she was determined to make her dreams of going abroad a reality and had been researching scholarship opportunities. She first learned of the Go Overseas scholarship in a campus-wide email from Spanish professor Ana Alfaro-Alexander, who said she frequently sends out emails like this to encourage Castleton students to go abroad.
Associate Academic Dean Yasmine Ziesler said Faucher was one of several Castleton students who have been awarded national scholarships in competitive fields to study abroad in recent years. Furthermore, she said she hopes more Castleton students gain Faucher’s confidence to reach for something that challenges them.
“I hope this inspires other students to take risks,” she said.
Clutching her giant check, Faucher began to comprehend the unfathomable and said she appreciated such widespread campus supported and felt fortunate to share the moment with her family.
In addition to the geography that differs vastly from her New England lifestyle, she said she is also eager to pursue her passion for rugby from the New Zealand perspective.
“I think it would be awesome to experience ruby in another culture,” she said. “I want to learn their tactics and bring them back here.”
Faucher said she had also looked into the academic opportunities at Victoria University of Wellington and she is excited to take research-based courses and compare the methods to those she has learned in American classroom settings.
“I never thought I would win,” she said. “It’s unreal. Just very unreal.”