Muscatine native, SAU grad wins prestigious Fulbright fellowship

Salazar 2nd St. Ambrose Fulbright honoree in two years

Fulbright Scholar English teacher
Daniel Salazar smiles during his 2023 graduation from St. Ambrose University. The Muscatine native and Fulbright finalist will head to Spain in September to serve as an English teacher assistant. CREDIT ST. AMBROSE UNIVERSITY

St. Ambrose University graduate Daniel Salazar of Muscatine has been chosen as a Fulbright finalist. Through the program will begin serving as an English teaching assistant in Spain, SAU President Amy Novak announced Tuesday, May 21. 

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program is a U.S. government-sponsored international exchange program that gives students, scholars, and professionals the opportunity to teach and study in more than 140 countries. Fewer than 20% of applicants are selected as finalist award winners. 

It’s notable then that Mr. Salazar’s is the second Fulbright English teacher assistantship awarded to an SAU student in as many years. Laura Meloy, who received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies in 2022, spent the last year completing her English teaching assistantship in Bulgaria, an SAU news release said. 

According to the Fulbright program, its English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Programs place Fulbrighters in classrooms to help local teachers teach students the English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the  United States. 

Mr. Salazar graduated from St. Ambrose in December 2023 with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary History Education. Since graduating, Mr. Salazar has been working as a long-term substitute teacher in his hometown of Muscatine. He is also the state director for the League of United Latin American Citizens in Iowa. He will leave these posts to pursue his Fulbright English teaching assistantship this fall. 

The SAU grad was hesitant to pursue the grant, the university said. Teaching abroad was not part of his intended career path. But he was inspired by the sacrifices of his grandfather to seize every opportunity available to him. 

Grandfather an inspiration

“As scary as it is to think of leaving all I have ever known, I can see no other way around what I consider my duty and responsibility. A duty to use the opportunities allotted to me thanks to a grandfather who had none,” Mr. Salazar said in the release.

 “Manual labor left my grandfather with little feeling in his fingertips and required several surgeries. I thought about the loneliness he must have felt, leaving all he had ever known to find a place abundant with opportunity not for himself but for his descendants.” 

As Mr. Salazar pursued a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, St. Ambrose faculty were there to support him through the Fulbright application process, the university release said. 

“The most real moment for me was meeting with St. Ambrose faculty and staff, people I had gotten to know very well along the way, and being interviewed honestly by them,” Mr. Salazar said. “Here I stood before faces I trusted, faces I knew would judge me accurately and could determine the direction of my life entirely.”

Brittany Tullis, interim dean for the College of Arts and Sciences, was one of those who helped Mr. Salazar navigate the application process. 

“It is a testament to Daniel’s hard work, drive, and dedication as a lifelong learner and global citizen,” she said in the release. “I know that his time here at St. Ambrose has prepared him particularly well for the mission upon which he will soon embark as a citizen diplomat abroad.”

Mr. Salazar also credited his SAU education for preparing him for the journey ahead. And not just for the tangible skills he is taking with him. It’s the values he’s learned about friendship, curiosity, duty, and courage that he hopes to emulate during his time abroad, the release said. 


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