Fulbright Spotlight: Elena Sottilotta, Alumna a.a. 2017/18

Elena Emma Sottilotta is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics at the University of Cambridge. Before coming to Cambridge, she was awarded a Fulbright grant to teach the Italian language and culture at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. As a Fulbright FLTA cultural ambassador in the United States, she led several cultural initiatives and promoted Italian culture in international conferences, film festivals, and intercultural events.

She has been recently awarded the Polly Stewart Student Stipend by the Women’s Section of the American Folklore Society, which allowed her to present her Ph.D. research on women folklorists at the AFS virtual annual meeting in October 2020. Her presentation focused on Grazia Deledda’s role as a scholar of popular traditions in the late nineteenth century and was based on research that she carried out in Sardinia as a recipient of a scholarship awarded by the Italian cultural association Il Circolo at the Embassy of Italy in London in 2019.

Elena’s experience as a Fulbright grantee was a springboard for her ongoing personal, academic, and professional interests. In parallel with her Ph.D. studies, she is committed to promoting the Italian language and culture as Vice President of the Cambridge University Italian Society (you can find out more about the cultural initiatives of this student-run society on the FB page.

While pursuing further her passion for teaching Italian and English to speakers of other languages, she is also determined to contribute to making educational opportunities more inclusive for students, regardless of their background. To this end, she is involved as a Ph.D. Tutor and as a Session Leader in a variety of outreach programmes, such as the Postgraduate Outreach Scheme of the University of Cambridge, which is designed to inspire and motivate pupils to pursue academic studies, and the Brilliant Club Scholars Programme, an award-winning charity that aims to widen access to highly selective universities for underrepresented young students.

Last but not least, Elena collaborates as a Fulbright Mentor within a counseling initiative which aims to provide support for candidates who are working towards their Fulbright applications. She is very happy to be contacted to share her experience and answer questions about the Fulbright application process.