More and more Baldwin Wallace students are being encouraged to apply for Fulbright scholarships.
The Fulbright Scholarship Program is a prestigious scholarship that will fund a year abroad for students after graduation; students can choose to opt for a graduate program to receive a one-year Master’s degree, do academic research or creative work, or teach as an English-language teaching assistant.
According to Dr. Amy E. Lebo, professor of philosophy, department chair, and program director of the Honors College, Baldwin Wallace and The Fulbright Program collaborate with at least forty countries.
“Each country can specify what it wants, so not every country offers every program, but these programs offer our students obviously a paid year abroad, but it’s also a way of connecting them to a web of high-profile and interesting people. It is a credential that is very highly regarded,” said Lebo.
Lebo said a Fulbright scholarship on a student’s resume can open more doors to better graduate programs, better employment, and can add experience with learning languages, which is a skill highly sought by employers.
“We see Fulbright as a leverage point that our students can use to be successful in whatever the next step may be for them,” said Lebo.
The Fulbright application process is lengthy: students must apply for the scholarship with help from the Honors College, which helps to work with students to choose their best materials for the application, and an on-campus interview must be conducted with a committee of faculty involved in the subject that the applicant wishes to study.
The interview is “an opportunity to get a final round of feedback on the application materials prior to the national deadline,” said Lebo.
There is a campus application deadline, as well as the official Fulbright application deadline, and the campus interview gives the applicant time to put the final touches on their materials for the national deadline.
Fulbright looks for strong students, but a student does not necessarily have to have straight As to be eligible. The Honors College is interested in working with all BW students regardless if they are in the Honors College or not.
Fulbright is interested in a well-rounded student: having studied abroad definitely helps with your application but is not required. The organization simply wants to see that a student can take care of themselves in another country away from home.
Dr. Kelly Coble, professor of philosophy and department chair, as well as two-time Fulbright scholar, greatly recommends the experience.
“I received the first grant a long time ago, when I was still a graduate student, studying Philosophy at DePaul University,” said Coble. “In 1995, I received a Fulbright-Hays Grant that enabled me to conduct my dissertation research at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. I loved that experience so much that I spent a second year there, teaching English to support living there an additional year. This experience changed the way I understood the world in profound ways. I believe it also motivated me to take my first university teaching position at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, where I taught for four years from 1998-2002. Living in Egypt changed my life even more profoundly.”
In 2009, Coble received another Fulbright grant to lecture at Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco and helped establish international ties between the university and BW that are still active today.
The Fulbright Program, Coble said, can be demanding and is not for everybody. Some countries can be more competitive than others, and unlike studying abroad, Fulbright scholars have a project that they must complete.
Notable Fulbright scholars throughout the history of the program have included Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck, and Gabrielle Giffords.