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K-State Today

October 16, 2012

Phi Kappa Phi study abroad awardee uses grant to enhance his Spanish, explore new culture

Submitted by Communications & Marketing

Kansas State University senior in English, Martin "Tucker" Wilson, Vernon Hills, Ill., has been awarded a Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grant to fund a trip he took to Spain as part of the university's modern languages study abroad program.

Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants help support undergraduates as they seek knowledge and experience in their academic fields by studying abroad. The honor society awards 50 $1,000 grants each year. Applicants are not required to be members of Phi Kappa Phi.

"My other major is Spanish, so I went to Spain to work on my fluency and improve my communication skills by being immersed in the Spanish-speaking culture; but what I gained was much more," Wilson said.

His experiences in Spain have not only improved his language skills but also given him further insight to human nature, he said.

"By experiencing different cultures and interacting with different personalities in a place you've never been, you learn a lot about human nature and what it is like to interact with people," Wilson said. "You learn there are great things in the world and a lot of good people, but you also learn about yourself by making a few mistakes."

Driven by a desire to help teenagers less fortunate than himself, Wilson wants to teach inner-city high school students in an English-Spanish classroom -- his dream job.

Wilson worked in the Chicago public school system as an intern the summer of his junior year. That experience, funded by the Chapman Scholars program through the College of Arts and Sciences, motivated him to make a difference in students' lives. Wilson has also worked as a tutor at the Kansas State University writing center since January and is conducting undergraduate research in community literacy.

"The graduation rate in Chicago is around 50 percent for minority students," Wilson said. "I've always been in a position where I've had great education and a great support system, and I want to help kids who haven't been put in that position. We need good teachers in schools to help bridge that gap."

Wilson has applied to the Urban Teacher Education Program at the University of Chicago. At Kansas State University, he is president of Sigma Tau Delta -- the university's English honorary, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the university honors program and is an English ambassador.

He has received the Mark A. Chapman Scholarship, Lukens Scholarship and an honors scholarship. A graduate of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Ill., he is the son of Diane and Martin Wilson, Vernon Hills, Ill.

Phi Kappa Phi, founded in 1897, is an academic honor society that admits junior and senior students from all disciplines. Its mission, reflected in programs such as the study abroad grant, is to recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others. The Kansas State University chapter of the honor society was established in 1915.