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Prestigious program offers FLC students adventure and an edge in life after college

A Fulbright scholarship can give grads an advantage as the march into their futures.
A Fulbright scholarship can give grads an advantage as the march into their futures.

The job market is still tough and getting into graduate school is no walk in the park either. The question students, from freshmen to seniors, should be asking is, what can I do to stand out from the crowd?

One impressive resume builder is studying abroad, and there aren’t many study abroad programs more challenging or prestigious as the U.S. Student Fulbright Program. There also aren’t many other study abroad programs that will get noticed faster on a resume or a graduate school application.

As the largest exchange program in the United States, the goal of the Fulbright Program is to give students and professionals the opportunity and the funding to study, teach and conduct research in any of the more than 135 countries that participate in the program.

“For undergraduate Fulbright scholars, a year spent abroad working on a project or as a teaching assistant increases one's chances exponentially of getting accepted into graduate school or finding a satisfying job,” explains Dr. Kathleen Fine, Fort Lewis College professor of anthropology and FLC’s Fulbright program advisor. “The prestige and door-opening potential of a Fulbright is similar to that of being a Rhodes scholar in England (a program Fort Lewis College students should also seriously look into), although it is a much younger program by about 45 years.”

All students need to be eligible for the Fulbright Program is to be a U.S. citizen and have earned a bachelor’s degree by the time the Fulbright grant would begin. The application process includes meeting with the campus Fulbright program advisor; selecting a country to live, work and study in; and creating a project proposal.

Fulbright projects explain what a student would like to do during their year in the program. In general terms, the project should be something exciting that helps a student grow academically or professionally while also fulfilling the Fulbright Program’s mission to foster mutual understanding between the world and the U.S.

“The kinds of projects funded by Fulbright range from public health projects in sub-Saharan Africa to environmental conservation in the Ecuadorian Amazon,” says Dr. Fine. “Fulbright fellows work as teaching assistants in rural schools in Laos, on wildlife fire risk management in Australia, and on picoplankton community structure and ecology on Lake Biwa in Japan.”

The Fulbright project, and the experience that comes with it, can change lives, for not only the people and communities in the host country, but also for the Fulbright scholars themselves.

“A post-bachelor’s Fulbright experience for a student would be invaluable on many levels,” says Dr. Fine. “Any program that pays for students to travel to and live for up to a year in another country alone will change their lives. But to go through the entire Fulbright process which, for a full grant, requires making a meaningful relationship with an institution or organization outside the U.S. such that they invite you to collaborate with them, is enormously rewarding.”

Nine Fort Lewis College professors are past Fulbright scholars. Ask them what being a Fulbright scholar means and how it’s helped them. Below is a list of who they are and where they studied and worked thanks to the Fulbright program:

  • Dr. Rebecca Austin, FLC Assistant Professor of Anthropology
    - Palawan Island, Philippines
  • Dr. Chad Colby, FLC Associate Professor of Art (Alternate)
    - Mexico
  • Dr. Kathleen Fine, FLC Professor of Anthropology
    - Quito, Ecuador
  • Dr. Michael Fry, FLC Professor of History
    - Guatemala
  • Dr. Paul Herz, FLC Professor of Accounting
    - Saratov, Russia
  • Dr. Neil McHugh, FLC Professor of History
    - Khartoum, Sudan & Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Dr. Ellen Paul, FLC Associate Professor of History
    - Czech Republic
  • Dr. Robert Sonora, FLC Associate Professor of Economics
    - Zagreb, Croatia
  • Dr. Suzanne Wilhelm, FLC Associate Professor of Business Law
    - Peru

Interested? Visit http://us.fulbrightonline.org and contact Dr. Fine at 970-247-7438 or fine_k@fortlewis.edu. Dr. Fine will help any interested students put together their applications and projects. The deadline for submitting Fulbright applications is September 16, 2011.

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