To say Kevin Thor’s résumé as a student at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration is robust is an understatement. From traveling the world by sea or by land to serving as national secretary for Phi Beta Lambda to meeting with senators and congressmen in Washington D.C., there is little he has set out to do that he hasn’t accomplished. His crowning achievement, however, may have come when the senior management and communications studies major found out he earned one of the most prestigious honors available to a college student – a Fulbright award to teach English in Vietnam.
“After dreaming of this for years and spending months applying, interviewing and waiting, I didn’t believe it was real. I almost called back one of the directors to make sure,” Thor said. “It didn’t really hit me until about 12 hours later, and I was a wreck in the best of ways. I am hoping to never lose this feeling of bliss.”
A Stanton, Nebraska, native, Thor leaves for Vietnam on August 1 and will spend 10 months teaching at a high school or university through the U.S. Department of State. He doesn’t yet have his assignment, but he will spend his first month in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital, for cultural, language and teaching training before relocating to a smaller city.
World travel is nothing new to Thor, who lived in Hanoi in the summer of 2014 while teaching English for a non-government organization (NGO). In 2013, he studied abroad with the Semester at Sea program, living and taking classes on a ship for 115 days while visiting 15 countries across Europe, Africa and South America.
“I want to continue to work and live abroad serving others in many capacities, but my highest interest is bringing various cultures and countries together to build positive, engaging relationships,” he said. “I absolutely love what is possible for this world if we engage with others to grow and learn.”
Beginning the Fulbright application process in June 2015, Thor spent between 80 and 100 hours writing essays on the purpose of his grant and his personal statement. He also collected three letters of recommendation from people who could vouch how he would be a true representation of the U.S. and have the ability to teach and thrive in a foreign environment.
He credits his time in CBA for helping him achieve his goals and said the environment in CBA makes it easy to Start Something. He is also involved in Omicron Delta Kappa honors society and the UNL chapter of Phi Beta Lambda. Immediately after graduation he will move to Dallas to intern at Southwest Airlines before leaving for Vietnam.
“There is no way I would have made it this far without the support and guidance of others,” Thor said. “That is what is common across each of my experiences at CBA – the people that work in the college, from faculty to advisors to staff, all make it personal, and I have been able to build relationships with truly outstanding people.”
The first CBA student to earn a Fulbright award since Shannon Cummins in 2004-05, Thor is part of a record-setting group of 11 UNL students to earn Fulbrights in 2015-16. He is one of 135 UNL students who have earned Fulbrights since 1965.
Approximately 1,600 U.S. students earn Fulbrights each year while 4,000 foreign students, 1,200 U.S. scholars and 900 visiting scholars earn awards. Roughly 310,000 people have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.