As her sister watched a video on YouTube, Eliza Klingler found her attention drawn to the tongue. It was the first time the high school student had heard of Korean, and she wanted to know more.
“I was really fascinated by the language. I like the way it sounds; I like everything about it,” she recalled. “It was just fine. After that, I started learning on my own and decided I wanted to study it no matter what.
A native of Chatham, NY, Klingler chose Binghamton University specifically for this opportunity. Few universities in the United States offer Korean studies, and Binghamton—three hours from his hometown—was more convenient than Michigan or Hawaii.
The senior graduate will have the opportunity to further immerse herself in all things Korea next winter when she travels to South Korea with a Fulbright award. The Fulbrights are a bit of a family tradition; his sister received one to go to Russia while Klingler was still in middle school, she said.
In South Korea, she will be part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Program, teaching the language to high school students. She deeply appreciates this opportunity; she had wanted to study abroad as an undergraduate, but the coronavirus pandemic derailed her plans.
“I thought it was really important to gain some travel experience and broaden my view of the world before entering a larger field and starting my career,” she said.
Long term, Klingler intends to pursue a career in immigration law, ideally assisting refugees and asylum seekers. Her interest in human rights — which became her minor — developed during her freshman year at Binghamton, when she was among the first group of students to participate in Project Source, a research experiment in the humanities and social sciences specifically focused on first-year students.
It was also at the Source Project that she met English teacher Alexandra Moore, who had a major impact on her experience at Binghamton; Moore is also co-director of the Human Rights Institute in Binghamton.
“She is absolutely amazing; she was my rock at Binghamton University throughout my four years,” Klingler said.
Moore described Klingler as an extraordinary student and person, whose compassion, intellect and dedication to human rights enrich every conversation.
“I’m so lucky to have gotten to know her through several courses, and I’m sure the Fulbright will only be the first of many opportunities she’ll have. I can’t wait to hear what she’s got. will do next!’ said Moore.