SXU alumna and Schmitt Scholar teaches abroad in South Korea

Saint Xavier University (SXU) students are known for being hardworking and dedicated individuals who strive for excellence in all of their endeavors. By offering a large variety of majors to choose from, students with degrees from SXU can be found living and working all over the world.

Alumna Kathy Rodriguez has spent nearly 13 months teaching abroad in the Gangwon-do Province of South Korea. An elementary education and international studies major during her time at SXU, Rodriguez was named a recipient of a grant as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, which has afforded her this unique opportunity.

“One of the best parts about living in South Korea is the global perspective I have gained in my short time here,” said Rodriguez. “The main goal of the Fulbright Program is to create a cross-cultural exchange of knowledge between the U.S. and the host country. As an English teacher, I provide English instruction and native speaker presence in the classroom,” she said.

Rodriguez accepted this position in South Korea with hopes of expanding her skillset as a teacher as well as her knowledgebase of other cultures. She has now acquired new methods for teaching English-learners both in South Korea and the United States. She has also seen the impact that learning English has on students throughout the world.

“At Yuchon Elementary School, we have a total of 54 students,” said Rodriguez. “English is a subject that is part of the nationwide curriculum,” she said.

Rodriguez is responsible for teaching English to 3rd through 6th graders in a rural, agricultural area of the country. Learning the English language is incredibly important in the South Korean school system, as it is required on all college entry exams.

Rodriguez attributes a lot of her success in teaching and service to her time spent at SXU. Whether it was through Campus Ministry or the Schmitt Scholars program, Rodriguez still holds the values she learned at SXU close to her today.

“I am a first-generation Mexican-American student and a really proud alumna of Saint Xavier,” said Rodriguez. “The Mercy core values instilled in me will last a lifetime. My time at SXU helped me discover what service is and how important it is for me to serve others through my teaching profession,” she said.

Living in South Korea has also provided Rodriguez with the opportunity to do things she never could have imagined. From actually attending the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics to experiencing the push for unity between North and South Korea, Rodriguez has truly experienced what it is like to live in South Korea during such a formative period.

“My school is unique because our curriculum focuses on this idea of 통일 Tong-il or unification,” said Rodriguez. “Our students participate in special events, field trips and projects that promote the idea of unification between North Korea and South Korea,” she said.

Although teaching in another country can be challenging at times, Rodriguez is glad she chose to teach in South Korea. Rodriguez feels that taking a chance and moving to the other side of the world for a year was worth it for her and encourages others to consider seeking out similar opportunities to foster their own growth in their chosen fields.

“My advice for anyone considering pursuing an opportunity studying or teaching abroad is to ask yourselves, ‘Will I regret not doing this twenty years from now?’” offered Rodriguez. “I have found that it is in these opportunities that I find the most personal growth and most rewarding experiences,” she said.

Thank you, Kathy, for your continued dedication to serving others! SXU is proud of your accomplishments.

To learn more about the Schmitt Scholars, please visit the Schmitt Scholars Program web page.