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Fulbright awards 12 Notre Dame grants

Emily Schrank | Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Notre Dame is one of the top-producing institutions of Fulbright awards in the nation, according to a recent announcement by the Fulbright Program.

Twelve Notre Dame students received Fulbright grants for the 2011-12 academic year, placing the University among the top 15 schools in the nation to receive the award.

Roberta Jordan, assistant director of National Fellowships for the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), said Notre Dame students are strong candidates for the Fulbright awards.

“Our applicants generally have a higher than national average win rate,” she said. “About 25 percent of our applicants are offered awards each year.”

Jordan said the application process for these grants and scholarships can begin as early as the spring semester of junior year. The deadline to apply for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2012 -13 academic year was Oct. 18.

“The CUSE Fellowships office holds information sessions at which we explain what the award is and ask juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing this to submit a statement of interest or a resume,” she said. “We then follow up with a pre-application prompting students to narrow their focus, identify one country and define their projects.”

Jordan said preparation to compete for such awards can begin as early as high school for some candidates.

“Experience is very important, so the more experience applicants can draw from, the better, whether we’re talking about research, graduate study or teaching English,” she said. “That’s not to say that students with a limited background in what they want to pursue are automatically excluded.”

Jordan said students choose to different ways to use their rewards.

“For English teaching assistantships, the age of the students and type of placement vary by country,” she said. “For research and study grants, the opportunities are endless because the applicants propose their individual projects.”

Andrew Mrugala, a 2011 Notre Dame graduate, was awarded a Fulbright Research and Study grant, which provides a year of funding for study and research abroad.

“The application process is pretty involved,” he said. “The great thing is that CUSE is right there with you through the whole process, and they offer all kinds of help with getting started, staying on schedule and putting together a solid application.”

Mrugala is currently in Poland investigating the effects of healthcare reform on the mining workforce.

“Luckily my area of research is not very cost-intensive and my living expenses are low, which leaves me a significant amount of grant money to partake in extracurricular stuff,” he said.

“This part of the world is a little bit more remote than Western Europe, so I’ve been trying to make the most of my time over here by working and experiencing as much as I can during the short time I have.”

Mrugala said he valued the help from the CUSE office when he applied for his Fulbright grant.

“It is encouraging to know that you really do have a chance to get the scholarship if you stick with CUSE and work with their office to put together a solid proposal,” he said. “The staff and faculty at school really helped to create an environment where applying for national-level fellowships wasn’t anything out of the ordinary or anything to be intimidated by.”