Quincy woman receives Fulbright scholarship

Michaela Rubalcava stands on the campus of Truckee Meadows Community College outside of Reno where she has taught education courses to aspiring teachers for the past 17 years. This summer she will travel to Santiago, Chile, as a Fulbright scholar. Photo submitted

The professor is going to be the student this summer.

Quincy resident Michaela Rubalcava, Ph.D, is a professor at Truckee Meadows Community College. For the past 17 years, she has been preparing her students to become teachers, instructing them in special ed, education theory and children’s literature, among other courses.

This summer she will become the student and travel to Santiago, Chile, as a Fulbright Scholar. She will join 15 other professors, most from four-year universities, to study Chile’s evolving approach to education.

At 54, Rubalcava thinks she might be the eldest of the diverse group selected from around the country, but she is excited about the opportunity to infuse her work with a new perspective. “This gives me a second life; a second wind,” she said. Part of the condition of the award is that she will develop new curriculum and then share it with the U.S. Department of Education.

She described submitting the application as a “totally intense process,” requiring three essays, multiple letters of recommendation, a curriculum vitae and transcripts. The cost of the trip is covered almost entirely by the scholarship, with Truckee Meadows picking up other costs.

It was a very competitive process and Rubalcava thinks she was selected because she incorporates art into her teaching. “All of my lectures have an art component,” she said.

In Chile, she and her peers will study the education reform that is being proposed. It is described as being the “most comprehensive reform ever to take place in Chile and would address the main concerns of Chilean society nowadays — i.e. quality and coverage in education … The aim is to provide nationwide quality assured access to educational opportunities, which, in turn, will increase the quality of life and take social justice one step further.”

Rubalcava’s trip will begin in Austin where she will rendezvous with the other attendees from throughout the United States for pre-orientation. Then it’s off to Chile. The month-long trip will represent by far the most amount of time that she has been separated from her husband, attorney Jeff Cunan.

“We have not been apart for more than four or five days,” Rubalcava said of her childhood sweetheart. Family members are not allowed to participate in the trip, so she will have a lot to share with her husband when she returns home in late July.