Chronicle of Higher Education names Centre a top producer of Fulbright Scholars
October 27, 2011 By Elizabeth Trollinger
producer of Fulbright Scholars among bachelor's institutions in
the US. Maria Kennedy ’11 is teaching English in Vietnam with
her Fulbright scholarship.
Four Centre alums were named Fulbright Scholars last year,
including Brad Fansher ’11 (above, front and center), who is
teaching English in Germany.
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently named Centre one of the top producers of Fulbright Scholars in the United States among bachelor’s institutions. Four Centre alums received Fulbright scholarships last year, giving Centre a high acceptance rate of 20 percent.
Fulbright scholars receive grants or English teaching assistantships for one academic year in a foreign country, along with stipends for living expenses and, for the research grants, tuition.
“At its heart, the Fulbright program is about cultural exchange,” says Allison Connolly, assistant professor of French and one of this year’s co-chairs of Centre’s Fulbright committee. “A large number of Centre students have international experience through the numerous study abroad experiences that the College offers. So in addition to their excellent academic preparation, our students are trained to seek intercultural experiences like those offered by the Fulbright Program.”
Centre has produced 47 Fulbright winners since 1991. Last year’s winners include Brad Fansher ’11, teaching English in Germany; Maria Kennedy ’11, teaching English in Vietnam; Julie Baer ’10, teaching English in Malaysia; and Kerri Howard ’08, studying in a master’s program in human rights at La Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.
Kennedy, who is teaching at Da Nang University of Economics, found that being at Centre primed her for her Fulbright scholarship.
“The main reason I applied for the Fulbright is because I felt prepared to do so. Simply put, Centre prepared me for life as a global citizen,” Kennedy says. “Everything that comprises the Centre experience — from the class offerings to the professors, Norton Center performances and study abroad program — screams, ‘There's a whole world out there! Go see it!’ Such a message resonates with the Fulbright Program's mission to create meaningful cultural exchanges between the United States and other countries, so when I heard about it I knew we were a perfect fit, thanks to Centre.”
Nuria Sabate-Llobera, assistant professor of Spanish and co-chair of Centre’s Fulbright committee, appreciates seeing that students like Kennedy are equipped for the Fulbright experience.
“As a faculty Fulbright advisor the most rewarding aspect is to realize that Centre’s seniors are well-prepared, sophisticated and eloquent, ready for another experience abroad,” she says.
For those Centre students considering applying for a Fulbright, Connolly and Sabate-Llobera have words of advice.
“Due to the highly competitive nature of the Fulbright program, I recommend that students begin the application process the summer prior to their senior year,” Connolly says. “In addition, in order to be a serious contender, the student needs to demonstrate compelling reasons why he or she should receive a grant to study or teach in a specific country — a student must develop and express a convincing connection to the country.”
“Be prepared for a long and intense application process!” Sabate-Llobera adds.
Despite how intensive the Fulbright application process might be, Kennedy believes that it’s worth it.
“The Fulbright experience has been a lot of things — frustrating, wonderful, beautiful, challenging, delicious — but above all, it has been moving,” she says. “Working with such talented, kind students is moving. Watching Vietnam struggle to bring itself into the 21st century while protecting its values and traditions is moving. The breathtaking scenery is moving. The support I've received from the Embassy, family and friends (both here and back home) is moving. Knowing that I'm participating in nation-building on behalf of the United States government is moving. Every day, I look forward to discovering not if I'll be moved but how — and that is a treat.”
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 24th among all the nation's colleges and universities and has named Centre No. 1 among all institutions of higher education in the South for two years in a row. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, click here.