WCSU graduate becomes university’s fourth Fulbright scholar

DANBURY, CONN. — If Western Connecticut State University graduate Katie Marsan could describe her college education in a word, it would be “challenging.” Accepted into the honors program, Marsan sailed through her courses with a nearly perfect GPA. The challenges offered at Western helped prepare Marsan for the opportunity of a lifetime — traveling across the globe to continue her studies in music education — a passion that she plans to turn into a lifelong career.

Last month, Marsan became the fourth WCSU student in the past five years to be named a Fulbright scholar. But the news, received several days before her May 2013 graduation, was bittersweet. Marsan lost her father to a long-time illness just days before graduation and receiving the Fulbright news. She said her next challenge will be hurdled with the support she received from her dad and from Western and said her father would want her to make the most of every opportunity.

This fall, the Western graduate will head to the University of Tartu in Estonia for nine months, during which time she will take fiddle lessons and study education and the folk music of the European nation.

Marsan learned about the Fulbright program when she first arrived on campus and was pleased by the fact that Western students were being honored with scholarships. “I’ve been hearing about the Fulbright program since I was a freshman — and I thought it was kind of a reach.”

While at Western, Marsan served as president and vice president of the Newman Club; treasurer, vice president and co-creator of the Chamber Music Club; and volunteer at the Salvation Army in Danbury. She was also a member of the Newman Club Music Ministry, Honors Student Organization and WCSU Opera Ensemble, to name a few. In addition to being awarded a Merit Scholarship, she was nominated for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

This is not Marsan’s first trip to learn abroad. She experienced life in another country and helped others by taking part in three weeklong mission trips to Jamaica sponsored by the WCSU Newman Club. There, Marsan tutored children and taught in the schools. She also visited with the sick and abandoned elderly. She looks forward to the opportunity to expand her horizons in a different setting.

Marsan said it was the individual attention, small classes and the honors program that helped her make the most of her four years at Western, a journey that culminated with a degree in music education with honors. The honors program, led by Professor of Political Science Dr. Chris Kukk, “opens you up to all these different opportunities and pushes you to go out of your comfort zone. You realize you can do more than you thought you could,” she said.

“This experience will enable me to expose my future students to another culture and form of music,” said Marsan, who plans to pursue a graduate degree in music to become a teacher. “The folk music of Estonia is known for its choral music. They have lots of festivals. Music is a good way for people to connect. We have different lifestyles, but we’re not all that different,” she said.



Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

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