Becoming a Fulbright Fellow is no easy task, yet Centre proudly claimed three this year: Ibrahim Jadoon ’13, Kaitlyn Lee ’13, and Caroline Schoeffler ’13. Just a few weeks after graduation, Patrick Cho ’13 of Walton, Ky., became Centre’s fourth Fulbright Fellowship recipient.
Centre has consistently been named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars over the years in an annual list by the Chronicle of Higher Education, with over 50 Fulbright winners from the College since 1991.
Cho continues this legacy of Fulbright Fellows from Centre College. Interestingly, Cho—who recently presented the senior response at Commencement 2013—is the second consecutive Student Government Association President to receive a Fulbright, following in the footsteps of Brian Klosterboer ’12, who has been in Uganda this year.
Cho, a government major, garnered many honors as a Centre student—he graduated magna cum laude and was inducted into three honor societies: Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society for Overall Achievement, Theta Honor Society for History, and Order of Omega for Greek Leadership. As a junior, Cho founded a Centre chapter of Actively Moving Forward, a campus network for students dealing with the loss of loved ones. He was also the recipient of the Paula M. Crumbie Memorial Prize, presented to students who exhibit excellence of character, leadership and academic achievement.
Now Cho has another accomplishment to add to his list: a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in South Korea.
For Cho, the Fulbright position is more than an academic achievement; it is a key to unlocking part of his family’s unique and interesting past.
“I am half Korean,” Cho explains. “My grandparents were born in what is now North Korea, and after World War II had to flee with nothing more than what they could carry on their backs.”
Cho’s grandparents came to America in the mid 1950s, where his father David was born. He explains, “my grandparents wanted their children to be American, so they didn’t really teach them their native language or culture.”
As a result, Cho has little knowledge about Korea, despite having heard about it often from relatives.
“It’s going to be an adventure,” Cho says of his trip to Korea. “I’ll be in a homestay with a Korean family that may not speak English. I don’t speak Korean, and I have to learn the basic Korean alphabet in the next month or so before I leave. I’m a little anxious but also very excited; the experience will definitely push me out of my comfort zone.”
Luckily for Cho, his four years at Centre have prepared him well for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“So much of what you do at Centre, whether it’s classes you take or activities you’re involved in, prepares you to be flexible, to re-examine your own thinking and question your own assumptions,” he says. “Centre inspires you to want to study abroad and see more of the world.”
Cho is also quick to thank the multiple faculty members who helped him apply for the program.
“The Fulbright application process is very intense and rigorous, but there were several professors who were always ready to help me with anything I needed. I’m really grateful to everyone who helped me along the way.”
Cho aspires to becoming a Foreign Service officer with the State Department, a goal that dovetails seamlessly with his Fulbright experience.
“This is a priceless opportunity to spend a year abroad,” he says, “not to mention get a taste of the life I might have in the Foreign Service.”
By Mariel Smith