College boasts record number of Fulbright Fellowship winners

By Connie Hsiung

[img id=”80237″ align=”alignleft”] Even though five undergraduate applicants still await their results, the U of C has already set a new school record for Fulbright U.S. Student Program Fellowships: 12 undergraduates and 13 students in total won the honor for the 2007–2008 academic year.

The Fulbright Fellowship is an international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government that aims to further intellectual and cultural relationships between the U.S. and other countries. There are various grants available both for foreign students, researchers, and professionals to study in the U.S. and for their American counterparts to study abroad. For the 2006–2007 year, the Program awarded 1,200 of its 6,000 annual grants to applicants of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, according to the State Department.

In the past, most of the grants under the Fulbright Program were awarded to graduate students in the University (the Fulbright-Hayes Fellowship). In the last six years, however, the number of undergraduate recipients has increased. This year, only one of the current recipients is an alum; the rest are current fourth-years in the College.

David Comp, Fulbright program adviser in the College, attributed this year’s success to increased awareness about the program. “Most students are under the misconception that the program is out of their range,” Comp said. “But that’s not the case.”

Comp said he has been working to promote the program to College advisers in addition to holding Fulbright information sessions that target third- and fourth-year undergraduates.

Many of the grants received this year involved language study. Three of the winners applied to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships Program, which awards grants to teach English abroad. Another three were recipients of the Fulbright Critical Language Enhancement Award, which contributes an additional sum to the regular student grant and pays for intensive study of languages such as Bengali, Russian, Mandarin, Arabic, Urdu, and Korean.

Administrators hosted a reception on Monday to congratulate and meet with the 13 students. At the informal meet-and-greet session, Dean of the College John Boyer made a toast to the recipients, in which he touted the importance of “intercultural empathy.”

The students used the reception to exchange their future project plans, which involve studies in China, the Dominican Republic, and Jordan, among others. Conrad Lee, a political science concentrator, said he plans to explore youth and conformity in former East Germany. Adam Kucharski, an anthropology concentrator, said he will be analyzing the architecture of refugee camps in Jordan. Women’s studies concentrator Lauren Osen said she will be researching a specific law in Norway that concerns gender distribution in businesses.

Eager to speak about their projects, the students were fairly surprised at their own achievements. When asked about his teaching fellowship in Taiwan, Mitcho Erlewine said, “I really don’t know why I got it, but I’m not asking questions.”

Other award recipients include Ava Rodland, who will study anthropology in the Dominican Republic; James Johnston, who will study languages and literature in Austria; Alexandra Squitieri, who will spend a year in a teaching assistantship in Spain; Irene Yoon, who will do the same in Russia; Kristine Khouri, who will study art and architectural history in Jordan; Daniel Michaeli, who will study economic development in China; and Michael Pareles, who will study history in China.