College Fulbright scholars carry on teaching, research traditionBy Josh Schonwald
While Chicago graduate students have stood in a familiar spotlight for the past 18 consecutive years, winning more Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowships than any other U.S. educational institution, undergraduate students are now sharing in the Fulbright success.
During the past two years, students in the College have enjoyed extraordinary success in the U.S. Fulbright student program, winning a total of 16 scholarships. This year, another eight students in the College have made it to the final round of evaluation, said David Comp, Assistant Director in the Office of International Affairs and Fulbright Program Adviser at the University.
Sometimes confused with the Fulbright-Hays DDRA fellowships for graduate studies, which the U.S. Department of Education funds, the U.S. Fulbright student program is administered by the U.S. Department of State. Offering nine-month grants, the program is divided into two tracks: research and teaching. Students can either conduct independent research abroad or they can secure teaching assistantships in their country of interest. Of the eight College students who received the award last year, five are doing research and three are teaching.
Lou Tremante, Senior Adviser in the College for Fellowships, attributes the rise in undergraduate Fulbright winners to be, in large part, reflective of a more global perspective. “There’s just a tremendous amount of interest in international study across the board.
“Whether it’s Foreign Language Acquisition Grants or study abroad programs or internship opportunities abroad,” Tremante said, “the thirst for international opportunities is great.” Students interested in the program packed the room at last year’s Fulbright information session, which was held in Harper Memorial Library.
Many students who have taken advantage of the College’s Foreign Language Acquisition Program, which offers 100 students $2,000 stipends for language study abroad, seek to use the Fulbright as a way of returning to the country of their interest. “The Fulbright is a tremendous opportunity to continue their study,” said Tremante.
To facilitate the increasing interest in post-graduate international programs, the College has aggressively promoted the U.S. Fulbright student program and has made several changes to assist applicants, Comp said.
Students now can choose to go through a pre-application process, designed to help them develop their research focus, strengthen their essays and establish contacts in their proposed country of study in advance of the October application deadline.
Because of the College’s quarterly system, classes typically resume in late September, and returning students often must complete their Fulbright applications during the first or second week of the Fall Quarter. “We’re trying to help students get much of their applications completed before they depart for the summer,” Comp said.
Both Comp and Tremante said Chicago students applying to international programs have traditionally benefited from the University’s strength in area studies.
Faculty and staff in both the Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies help students refine their research and assist them in developing international contacts, Comp said. “The involvement of faculty in this process from the beginning has been critical for the success of our students,” Tremante said.
The 2006-2007 U.S. Fulbright student scholarship competition will open in May. Students interested in taking the first step can attend a session to be scheduled in the Spring Quarter.
Another information session for graduate students will be held at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, in the Classics building, Room 10.