College accepts record Fulbright awards

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November 5, 2010

12:46 AM

An increasing number of pupils at the College of William and Mary are being awarded Fulbright grants, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, which named the school one of the nation’s top producers of Fulbright students.

“Students are engaged here and are willing to take that further,” Charles Center Peer Scholarship Adviser Sarah Salino ’12 said. “I think that’s what makes us attractive to Fulbright.”

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education, the Fulbright Program provides funding to alumni, graduate students and undergraduate seniors for a year of research or teaching English abroad. The program was established in 1946 to increase mutual understanding between Americans and citizens of other nations and has had more than 300,000 participants from the United States and from around the world.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the College tied for 23rd place among research institutions producing the most Fulbright recipients, having 13 successful applicants last year out of the 43 who applied, more than any other university in the state.

The other schools which tied for 23rd place with 13 grant winners were Duke University, George Washington University and Washington University in St. Louis. The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor topped the chart with 40 Fulbright recipients out of 144 applicants.

Of the universities ranked, the College had the seventh highest applicant success rate at 30 percent.
Fulbright Program Adviser Lisa Grimes attributes the rise in successful applications to several factors including improved campus publicity about the program and an increased interest among students in spending time abroad after graduation before making long-term plans.

“Particularly, graduating seniors are looking to do something before they go straight into a job or straight to graduate school, and Fulbright provides a nice year between those things,” she said. “These are people who are excellent candidates who in previous years might have gone straight to grad school, straight to med school; they’re giving Fulbright a shot.”

According to Grimes, the prestige of the grant may be among the attractions Fulbright has for students.

“Fulbright is a competitive national award,” she said. “It’s something that makes them an even more compelling candidate for other opportunities.”

The chance to pursue a passion for research or teaching is another draw of the Fulbright program. Clay Hudson ’11 submitted his application earlier this semester for an English Teaching Assistantship in South Africa.

“I applied because teaching is a profession I want to pursue,” he said. “I spent a month in South Africa over the summer and thoroughly enjoyed myself.”

Hudson believes that the College’s culture of academic rigor and intellectual inquiry contribute to students’ success in applying for Fulbright grants.

“I think it starts with us having a very solid academic foundation,” he said. “People here are pretty curious about stuff and have the initiative to find out. We have such an active international study program at the Reves Center — that lends itself to the Fulbright program.”

New to the Fulbright program this year is the fact that students who have been awarded a teaching grant may apply later for a research fellowship as well. Previously, students were only permitted to receive awards for one of the two options.

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