Farragut alums earn Fulbright awards

Josh FloryFarragut, Our Town Kids

A pair of former KCS students were among the honorees last month when the University of Tennessee announced 17 recipients of a prestigious national fellowship.


Farragut High School graduates Kristi Phillips, who graduated from UTK this year, and Jaime Ragos, who graduated from UTK in 2019, were both offered the Fulbright Student award, which provides study, research and teaching opportunities in foreign countries.

Phillips plans to work in Belarus during her fellowship, while Ragos will work in Taiwan, although the COVID-19 pandemic will delay their moving dates until at least January.

Phillips, who majored in language and world business with a concentration in Russian studies at UT, lived in Minsk last summer while teaching English. She didn’t meet a single American during her visit, and said the people she met were eager to learn about American culture.

“I made a lot of good friends there and it was just a very welcoming learning environment,” she said.

Phillips speaks Russian, and plans to eventually pursue a master’s degree in library science, with the goal of becoming an elementary school librarian. During her career at Farragut, she said Russian language teacher Anna Arapakos was a significant influence: “She was so enthusiastic and excited about Russian culture and languages, it was infectious almost.”

Ragos majored in food science and technology; language and world business; and Latin American and Caribbean studies at UT, and currently works as a researcher for a Chicago-based nonprofit called Stop Foodborne Illness.

During her fellowship in Taiwan, she plans to study Taiwanese and Chinese cultural practices and beliefs, and how they affect health and safety. Her ultimate goal is to go to medical school and get a doctorate in epidemiology, with a focus on preventing disease outbreaks.

Besides her work, the fellowship will provide an opportunity to re-connect with family members: Ragos is Filipino, and said her parents have already contacted relatives in the Philippines to tell them that “I’m spending the holidays with them.”

Ragos said her mentors at Farragut included former chemistry teacher Debbie Fraser; Spanish teachers Irma Acevedo and Allison Maldonado; and social studies teacher Elizabeth Blankenship, who was also the Student Government Association advisor.

Learn more about the Fulbright Award here.

Josh Flory is a multi-media specialist with Knox County Schools and writes this blog, Hall Pass, for the KCS website.

 

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