Samantha Redfern became interested in Estonia at the start of her Nebraska Wesleyan education. She spent an entire semester learning and writing about Estonia through her Introduction to International Politics class. She was intrigued by how the country gained its independence and how its citizens worked hard to innovate their bureaucracy. She was impressed by its e-commerce and technology development and family support policies.
Now she’s hoping her knowledge of Estonia will ease her transition when she relocates there thanks to the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, the flagship international education exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.
Redfern, a political science major from York, Neb., graduated in May from NWU. This will mark her first study abroad experience, though she credits the Capitol Hill Internship Program for helping her embrace this opportunity.
“I worked on paid family leave policy through my internship at the National Partnership for Women and Families during my time in Washington, D.C., which set me up well to talk about the issue in context with Estonia,” she said.
While in Estonia, she’ll spend the year as an English teaching assistant. In addition to her Fulbright Scholarship, Redfern received a Woodruff Fellowship to attend graduate school at Emory University. She’s planning to enroll in that program when she returns from Estonia.
“But I try and stay flexible and open-minded to whatever opportunities become available,” she said.
At NWU, Redfern served as the student body vice president, and was active in Willard Sorority, University Ministries and the women’s golf team. She served as a Prairie Wolves Welcome leader and was a student consultant in the Cooper Center for Academic Resources.
Redfern is interested in religious institutions and how they change and develop in relation to power and government. She aspires for a career that encompasses her passion for public service, policy and out-of-the-box conversations about Christianity.
“I’m inspired by the work achieved by the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society,” said Redfern who has a minor in religion and philosophy. “Estonia is one of the most secular countries in the world, so I look forward to seeing the relationship between the church and state with a perspective after this experience.”
Redfern’s award brings NWU’s total Fulbright Scholarship total to 60.