ND ranked as top-producing institution for Fulbright grants
Carolyn Hutyra | Thursday, February 19, 2015
Ten students from Notre Dame were awarded Fulbright grants for the 2014-15 program, ranking the University as a top-producing institution of grant recipients.
Jeffrey Thibert, assistant director of national fellowships in Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE), said placement on the list is a significant honor for the University, raising its profile even further among U.S. doctoral and research institutions.
“The grants benefit Notre Dame by confirming the University’s commitment to internationalization and expanding our global reputation,” he said. “Notre Dame Fulbright recipients are not just representing the U.S. abroad; they are representing Notre Dame abroad as well.”
Thibert said the Fulbright is a great opportunity for students for three key reasons, the first of which is its ability to allow students to deepen their engagements with a particular part of the world through an immersive academic and cultural experience.
“Second, the Fulbright provides funding for work that can significantly enhance one’s professional trajectory, whether that work is graduate study, dissertation research or classroom teaching experience,” he said. “Third, receiving a Fulbright grant opens the door to a vast network of Fulbright recipients around the world, and the prestige associated with the Fulbright has been a marker of outstanding achievement for decades.”
Strong applicants often have experiences in their academic or extracurricular histories that indicate an interest in the wider world and the ability to adapt to an unfamiliar cultural environment, Thibert said. These experiences may involve study or research abroad as well as participation in internationally-themed coursework or clubs.
“Notre Dame students are competitive applicants for the Fulbright because the University has prioritized international engagement for undergraduates and graduate/professional students,” he said. “…Because the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is fundamentally about promoting cultural exchange through educational exchange, international engagement as a student is a key indicator that someone will be an effective representative of the U.S. abroad.”
Class of 2014 alumna Deanna Kolberg, who received a Fulbright grant for the 2014-15 program, is currently working as a teaching assistant in South Korea.
Hoping to one day pursue a policy job within the U.S. government, Kolberg said she sees herself contributing to foreign policy through research or ground work with the Department of State.
“Korea is of huge importance for U.S. national security policy, with large numbers of military personnel protecting the border from a hostile state to the North, and lies as a hub for U.S. security in greater Asia,” she said. “I can’t think of a job in foreign policy over the next 50 years that won’t need knowledge of Korea.”
Kolberg said anyone looking to apply for a Fulbright grant should take full advantage of the opportunities Notre Dame has to offer.
“Don’t spend your fall break at home — apply for a Nanovic Grant,” she said. “Do research beyond what’s required of your classes. Write a senior thesis. Keep in touch with your professors.”
Kolberg said she has benefited in a variety of ways as a result of joining the Fulbright community.
“You’re in a group of really highly motivated internationally-minded thinkers, with plenty of opportunity to interact,” she said. “I’ve learned a whole new set of skills and patience living with a Korean host family in pretty much the middle of nowhere.”
As a teacher in Korea, Kolberg said she has experienced both the joys and pains of teaching and her own Korean has slowly improved as well.
“More than anything, I’m one of the few people I graduated with who can honestly say they love their job,” she said.
Even when her mood wasn’t the best, Kolberg said she was uplifted when greeted by students in the hallway shouting, “We love you, Deanna!”
“And you just can’t have a bad day like that,” she said. “They just won’t let you.”
After her school’s graduation day last week, Kolberg said countless students told her how much they appreciated her class and how much they learned. Her next career move is now centered on returning to the United States.
“I recently was accepted to the Ph.D. in political science program at the University of Michigan, which I can only think had something to do with my participation in the Fulbright program,” she said.
Class of 2014 alumnus Marcus Liddell, another 2014-15 Fulbright recipient, also received an English teaching assistantship, although he currently resides in Germany, working at a secondary school teaching grades 7-12.
Liddell said he decided to apply for the Fulbright grant due to his interest in education and his pursuit of a degree in German and minor in education, schooling and society.
“My summer jobs had been education-related,” he said. “I had studied abroad in Germany for a semester, and I had spent a week while I was there shadowing teachers at a local high school, so I had some evidence that this was the kind of thing I’d like to be doing with or without a fellowship.”
After returning from study abroad in Berlin, Liddell said he was almost fluent in German.
“I felt like I needed more time in Germany to really become comfortable speaking the language, and that was something that was really important to me,” he said.
Beyond that, Liddell said he already knew a little bit about education in Germany and was interested in getting a closer, first-hand look at how the system worked.
“It was an easy choice from both the standpoint of improving my German and the standpoint of getting some practical experience as an educator,” he said.
With about 12 to 14 lessons a week, Liddell said, for the most part, he does all the teaching. He said he spends his time outside of the classroom traveling, working in the community with sports and other activities and pursuing a research project.
“I’ve started [to] run a couple after-school clubs and helped out with a number of shorter-term projects,” he said. “… When the weather gets a little nicer here, I’d like to start a small touch rugby league at my school.”
Liddell said students interested in a Fulbright should consider the application process early and work with an advisor.
“Decide if the things you want to do fit with what the Fulbright is offering,” he said. “If you’re a good fit in your mind, if you’re not just curious, but truly passionate, then you should consider applying.”
Applications for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program are assisted in a joint effort between the CUSE and the Graduate School, Thibert said. Undergraduates interested in learning more should visit CUSE National Fellowships online at http://fellows.nd.edu, and graduate/professional students and alumni should contact Dr. Mike Westrate at firstname.lastname@example.org
“As we send more Fulbright recipients around the world, they raise the University’s global profile, which will help us to continue to bring the best international students to the University while fostering productive international academic collaborations,” Thibert said.