By Douglas Esser
Brad Lakey, a six-year Marine Corps veteran with two tours in Iraq, is a little concerned about his next assignment, teaching English to students in Peru.
The Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award winner is looking forward to working in South America the next school year. He’s just fretful about a few variables that have to be worked out before he leaves in August, such as exactly where he’ll be going and what level he’ll be teaching.
Then, of course, there’s his University of Washington Bothell graduation on June 12. And, he’s getting married the day before that.
Otherwise, all he has to do is complete his master's in education, with English language learner and social studies endorsements, plus the teaching certificate
“I’ll get what I get and see what happens,” says Lakey. “I think being in the Marine Corps has definitely conditioned me to deal with the basics.”
Lakey is UW Bothell’s 10th Fulbright finalist. The 30-year-old Bothell resident who grew up in Woodinville and Anchorage, Alaska, learned leadership and adaptability as a reconnaissance Marine, working in small teams as a scout and forward observer.
Seeing how different life can be in Iraq was eye-opening.
“And it was through the lens of somebody who was wearing body armor and toting a gun and doing all that stuff,” Lakey says.
“It was a good experience,” he says with an ironic laugh, recognizing that the country is still unstable.
After leaving the Marines, Lakey went abroad again as a volunteer English teacher in Ghana with the group ANANSI, which partners with schools to find sponsors for individual secondary students.
“It set me on fire for teaching. That’s one of the things I really, really enjoyed was teaching these kids,” he says.
Returning home, Lakey decided to go to college in education. He chose University of Washington Bothell because, as a Husky fan, he had dreamed of going to the UW, and he was attracted by the global studies program.
Lakey had intended to transfer, but “realized how great the program was” and finished his undergraduate degree in 2014 then started the master’s program here.
“It’s not the typical college experience,” he says. “There’s a lot of interdisciplinarity here, and I really came to realize the importance of considering different disciplines while thinking about an issue.”
Lakey’s adviser and a teacher in both undergraduate and graduate classes is Associate Professor Wayne Au.
“A lot of things he says and the way he teaches have modeled for me the way I’ll teach my students,” says Lakey. “He connects with student and that’s what education is based on, that relationship.”
Winning the Fulbright allows Lakey to teach abroad again. He has been fascinated by South America and the history and society of Peru.
When he returns home next year, he plans to teach in Washington, perhaps in the Northshore School District. Lakey has been involved in YMCA programs at Northshore junior high schools. He’s also participated in events with the Student Veterans Association.
“I’ve had a great experience here,” he says.
Students interested in the prestigious program can learn more at two Fulbright information sessions at UW Bothell on May 2 and 24, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Rose Room. Read more about the Fulbright program.
By Douglas Esser