Ellicott City: Howard High grad finds niche in Germany as Fulbright Scholar

For more than 65 years, Fulbright scholarships have been awarded to our country’s most accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists and scientists.

Since its founding in 1946, 43 Fulbright alumni have been awarded the Nobel Prize and 81 have received Pulitzer Prizes. 

Recently, the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced that 2008 Howard High school graduate Jessica Gross was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarship to Germany in an English Teaching Assistantship.

Gross now joins a prestigious group of Fulbright scholars awardees, including Lee Evans, Olympic Gold Medalist; Rita Dove, poet; Amar Gopal Bose, chairman and founder of Bose Corp.; Renee Fleming, soprano; Jonathan Franzen, writer; and Daniel Libeskind, architect.

According to Gross, in 2011, 750 U.S. citizens participated in the Fulbright English teaching program, of which about 100 were stationed in Germany. 

Last month, the 2012 University of Maryland, College Park, graduate with a double major in German and kinesiology, traveled to Ulm, Germany.  For one academic year, Gross will serve as an Ulm high school language assistant to English teachers. 

As the “native speaker” teacher in the classroom, Gross will provide German students top notch English language instruction and valuable first hand cultural knowledge of the United States.

Outside of her classroom responsibilities, Gross may give presentations in the community on topics related to United States history, culture and society. 

Gross, whose paternal grandparents hailed from Germany, was first exposed to German language and culture by her father Chris Gross, a first generation German American.

Throughout her childhood, her father and mother, Debbie Gross, took the family to Germany every four years to visit a host of relatives living in Frankfurt. The family enjoyed that their visits to Germany coincided with World Cup soccer games.

At Howard High school, Gross enrolled in German language classes, where she solidified her passion for German language and culture.  But it was during her junior year in college, when she spent a year in Germany as an exchange student at the University of Tuebingen, that she realized that she wanted to return to Germany to live and work.

As a German college major, it seems logical that Gross would pursue opportunities to work in Germany.  Although Gross worked as the University of Maryland football team trainer for two year during college, I wondered if her other college major, kinesiology, would play a part in her journey to Germany. 

“Yes, I plan to pursue a career that will combine my passion for German language and culture with my passion for kinesiology (sports medicine and management).  My dream job is to be the trainer for the German soccer team,” Gross said. 

Considering Gross’s determination and track record for excellence, I’m confident someday she will realize her dream job. Congratulations Jessica! Have a wonderful year in Ulm. 

The Wine Bin in Historic Ellicott City has a fabulous Saturday night summer outdoor movie series that runs through September.  Although the movies start at 8 p.m., the store’s parking lot closes at 7 p.m. in order to provide movie goers an hour of wine tastings and time to set up their chairs and picnic before each movie.

Ice coolers are also available to chill your beer and wine. In addition, sales of popcorn and bottled water benefit the Voices for Children of Howard County. 

The September movie line-up includes “Groundhog Day” on Sept. 1, “Psycho” on Sept. 8, “American Graffiti” on Sept. 15, “Chicago” on Sept. 22 and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” on Sept. 29. 

For more information, go to the Wine Bin’s website at http://www.winebinec.com.  

The Howard County Public School System’s Attendance Area Committee, charged with developing and evaluating potential school redistricting plans before they are presented by staff to the Board of Education, will hold two public meetings in our area. 

The committee’s redistricting plan draft will be presented at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at  Howard High School, and on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Centennial High School.

Public feedback is welcome at both meetings. For more information, go to the http://www.hcpss.org/boundarylines/committee.shtml.

On a sad note, I couldn’t close this column without mentioning the tragic loss of teenagers and Mt. Hebron High alumnae Elizabeth Nass and Rose Mayr in the train derailment in historic Ellicott City last week. 

My condolences to the Nass and Mayr families. My thoughts and prayers are with you. 

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