CSM Alumnus Awarded Fulbright Teaching Assistantship

Dillon Banis

Dillon Banis, 2014 Grad, Given Opportunity in Germany

The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) alumnus Dillon Banis has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. The award gives Banis, who graduated from CSM in 2014, the opportunity to work in Germany to assist local English teachers while serving as a cultural ambassador for the United States.

“It is an honor to the degree of which I never would have thought would be conferred on me,” Banis said.

“Dillon is a one-in-a-million student, who made an impression on all of us who were fortunate enough to teach him,” said CSM Professor Dr. Christine Arnold-Lourie. “Dillon is interested in everything and has explored a wide variety of subjects, including economics, music history, literature and history. A conversation with Dillon might range from composer Ralph Vaughn Williams to libertarianism to historiography, and Dillon fearlessly undertakes to challenge himself to explore and learn. He is deeply interested in culture and ready to immerse himself in the Fulbright experience. Without question, Dillon will continue to achieve wonderful things.”

Banis was a 2010 graduate of Chopticon High School. While at CSM, Banis, completed five honors modules – one in geography, directed by Dr. Art Viterito; one in music history, under Dr. Stephen Johnson; and three in history, directed by Arnold-Lourie. He also served as a history peer tutor and worked nearly full time to support his studies. Upon graduation, he received CSM's annual history award and the Colonial Dames Scholarship.

“Dillon was one of the few students that could tackle avant-garde music – always a pleasure to have in class,” Johnson said. “I'm glad his hard work is paying off.”

After CSM, Banis continued his education at Morgan State University, where he graduated summa cum laude in 2016. Now 25, he lives in Syracuse, New York, while he works toward his master's in history at Syracuse University and serves as a teaching assistant. He plans to also pursue his doctorate. Banis' ultimate career goal is to become a history professor or maybe work with the U.S. Department of State or a foreign policy think tank.

Banis said that CSM was a good place to start his educational journey. “CSM was in every way a valuable experience, particularly the care, guidance and attention I received from my professors,” he said. “I would not have even been able to start a college career had it not been for CSM. I hesitate to call anything a formative moment because I'm constantly trying to grow and expand my understanding, but if I were to peg such a moment to a particular time, I would say it was during my time at CSM.”

As Banis prepares to embark on his Fulbright adventure to Germany, he remembers that he first experienced international travel and cultural exchange at CSM. His first trip abroad was with the CSM travel-study program when he traveled with Professor Neal Dwyer and other students to Ireland. “Because of Dillon's curiosity, his love of learning and different experiences, never fazed, he was open to every minute of Ireland. He soaked it all in. It doesn't surprise me he's on to bigger and better things in Europe – he's the kind of student we love to have in class, on travel study trips,” Dwyer said.

“I was so moved by the experience [in Ireland] that I became determined to spend an extended period of time abroad in a non-English speaking country,” Banis said.

His Fulbright award will allow him to fulfill that goal. “I plan to conduct research during my free time while I'm [in Germany] and hopefully enroll in a university course,” he said. “There is a chance I will be working with refugees, which is something I requested in my application … In terms of pure academic interest, the Fulbright means that I will have a chance to become fluent in German and will, thus, be able to explore my field of interest, German intellectual history, much more in depth.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

For information on CSM's Travel-Study Program, visit http://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/credit/flexible-learning-options/travel-study/. For information on the different degree options available at CSM, visit http://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/credit/types-of-degrees/.