News & Information

Fulbright recipient teaching in Portugal


Sacramento State alumna Kristy Michelle Smith is spending the school year in Portugal, courtesy of a Fulbright scholarship. As part of the U.S. government’s flagship international educational program, she will facilitate relations between the people of the United States and those of other countries.

Smith’s posting is to the Instituto Universitario de Lisboa-Lisbon, Portugal, where she will serve as a teaching assistant. Her duties will include helping Portuguese professors hone their English writing, reading and speaking skills. She will also teach lessons, conduct tutorials with professors and students, present sessions on U.S. culture and lead book clubs in English literature.

An ambitious agenda, to be sure, but Smith’s nine-year experience as an educator should ease the intercontinental transition.

After earning her multiple subject teaching credential and English supplemental Credential at Sac State, Smith began her teaching career at San Juan Unified School District. There she taught in diverse academic environments. Her classes included low-income students and English language learners. She also taught bilingual classes and high achievers with API scores exceeding 900.

Last year, Smith created and taught a summer literacy program for 60 students. In 2007 she was a delegation leader for a group of student ambassadors traveling to Greece and Italy.

She looks forward to the challenge of immersion in a new culture. “My knowledge of Portuguese is limited but I expect to become far more proficient in the language during the coming school year,” she says.

Proficiency is no problem for this energetic young woman. She parlayed her tennis skills into full-ride scholarships at Eastern New Mexico University and Westmont College to get her bachelor’s degree. She won a governor’s scholarship to pay for the year she spent at Sac State earning her teaching credential. “My educational experience at Sacramento State was amazing,” she says. “The instructors and mentors were very supportive of me and instrumental in my eventual success as a teacher.”

Kristy Smith will miss her students at San Juan Unified. But she sees the Fulbright as a magnificent opportunity to keep moving toward the fields of educational and international policy.

– Alan Miller