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2013 USU Math Grad Earns National Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship

Thursday, Jul. 18, 2013

USU 2013 graduate Michael Buhler is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow

Displaying Aggie pride: 2013 USU graduate Michael Buhler is a recipient of a W.K. Kellogg Foundation's Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship. He is pursuing graduate studies at Western Michigan University.

logo for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

Founded in 1945, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation encourages exceptional students to pursue careers in secondary education. USU alum Michael Buhler is one of 51 recent college grads selected for the program's Michigan STEM program.

Recent Utah State University graduate Michael Buhler is the recipient of a prestigious national teaching fellowship that places the Idaho native in the footsteps of a favorite mentor while propelling him toward his dream of becoming a high school teacher.

An Honors student who graduated from USU in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in math education, Buhler is one of 51 students selected for the 2013 W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Woodrow Wilson Michigan Teaching Fellowship.

“I’m really excited about it and enjoying getting to know my classmates and new surroundings,” says Buhler, who started the fellowship’s intensive master’s program at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo shortly following USU’s commencement.

Buhler’s cohort is the third group of fellows named in Michigan’s STEM program. The program provides each fellow with $30,000 to complete a streamlined, specially tailored graduate program that lasts about a year. In return, Buhler commits to teach for three years in Michigan’s high-need urban and rural secondary schools.

Buhler’s USU advisor, professor Larry Cannon, was a fellow in one of the foundation’s earlier programs.

“Dr. Cannon was a great mentor to me during my undergraduate career,” Buhler says.

He also has high praise for math professor Jim Cangelosi (“who taught me everything I know about math teaching”), math faculty member Dave Brown (“who taught me nuances of math and how to write”) and Spanish professor Maria Luisa Spicer-Escalante (“who taught me everything I need to know about teaching Spanish.”)

Buhler entered USU as a Presidential Scholar following graduation from Idaho Falls’ Bonneville High School in 2007.

“I had really good teachers at my high school and initially thought I’d study to become a high school history teacher,” he says.

After being named Bonneville High’s “Math Student of the Year,” the graduating senior reset his sights on mathematics and undertook a relentless undergrad schedule packed with 18-plus credits per semester, along with 30-plus hours of employment each week. He also squeezed in an LDS mission to Peru and married fellow USU student Ashley Arnold Buhler’13, a native of Spanish Fork, Utah.

“Yeah, you could say I was busy,” says Buhler, who added minors in Spanish and political science to his undergrad program. “I guess it was a good lesson in time management.”

The sports enthusiast officiated at high school football and baseball games and served as a teaching assistant for Cangelosi and as a tutor for the USU’s Honors program and Academic Resource Center. But a pivotal experience was working with students with learning disabilities at Logan, Utah’s, Fast Forward Charter High School.

“These were kids with special challenges; some of whom had been kicked out of other public schools,” Buhler says. “I was one of five tutors assigned to the school through the America Reads program.”

The seasoned math tutor quickly learned a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution was not going to fly in the high school classroom — especially in an alternative high school.

“I came to understand you have to adapt your teaching to each student’s needs,” Buhler says.

He remembers a transgender student struggling to adjust after gender-reassignment surgery to his former peer group.

“The student was having trouble getting along with others and his studies were suffering,” Buhler says. “I paired him with a new, outgoing student from Central America for classroom activities and the transformation was amazing — both socially and academically. Social relationships are so important for teens and, from this experience, I learned about teaming with students to work out problems. It makes such a big difference in their lives.”

Now in Michigan, Buhler is experiencing his own period of adjustment as he learns to navigate without mountains, gets acclimated to Midwestern humidity and samples local cuisine.

“I think pizza is the main food group of Michigan,” he jokes.

Leaving USU also means missing USU football and basketball games, but Buhler looks forward to a new passion.

“Western Michigan has a very good hockey team,” he says. “And Kalamazoo is home to the ‘K-Wings’ professional hockey team.”

Related links:

Contact: Michael Buhler,

Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517,

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