Two students named semi-finalists for prestigious Fulbright award; last BW winner came in 2005

Two Baldwin Wallace seniors have been named semi-finalists in the competition for a Fulbright Scholarship—an award which only four BW students have ever won in the University’s history.

While winning a Fulbright is the ultimate goal, said Amy Lebo, director of the Honors Program, having two semi-finalists is exceptional for the BW community.
Winning a Fulbright Scholarship means that the U.S. State Department completely funds a year abroad, said Lebo, and the student gets to choose one of three different paths to take as a Fulbright winner.
“Students can choose to use the money from the State Department to earn a Master’s degree, or they can become an English teaching assistant in the country of their choice,” she said. “The third option would be a chance for independent research.”
There are 140 countries involved in Fulbright and, in order to win, each student must successfully pass through a review in their country of origin and a review in the country they would like to go to.
Working with the students are Lebo and the Assistant Honors Director Margaret Stiner.
When asked what the role of the Honors Program was in assisting these students, Lebo said that the program has recently taken over advising the students through the process and prepping them for success.
“The Honors Program works very closely with the applicants,” she said. “We help them select which country they want to go to, and then we help them draft the two writing components of the application.”
Over the span of weeks, the students work with Margaret Stiner, revising their writing sentence by sentence in order to make it perfect. Then comes the faculty interview, in which Lebo and Stiner compile a group of professors who know the student well and proceed to judge the student’s application.
After this interview, said Lebo, applications are then submitted to Fulbright for in-country review.
This year, the two BW semi-finalists are Clara Harb and William Lekan.
For Harb, a biology and French double major with a minor in chemistry, winning Fulbright would mean obtaining her Master’s degree in Paris, France.
“I applied for the grant using my research in bioinformatics and genomics, which I have been working on with Dr. Jeffrey Zahratka in biology since Fall of 2017,” she said. “Receiving a Fulbright grant to continue this research would provide me with a pathway to enter into the “adult” research world while also offering me the opportunity to live abroad in one of my favorite cities for an entire year.”
Harb said she would not have a hope of winning the Fulbright without the help of Amy Lebo and Margaret Stiner, as well as her academic advisors, Dr. Davis Todd and Dr. Sahely, and of course, Dr. Zahratka.
For Lekan, his Fulbright experience would be a bit different; he plans on becoming a teaching assistant in Taiwan if he wins.
Lekan says that he’s always wanted to be a teacher, and that studying with Taiwanese children would be a great way to get more teaching experience.
“This award would allow me to do community service work in Taiwan in addition to teaching,” he said, “and I will hopefully work with a Buddhist organization called “Tzu Chi” which aims to reduce poverty through various service projects.”
Both students will find out if they are finalists in April or May.
Lebo hopes that the success of Harb and Lekan will encourage students to take advantage of the tremendous coaching the Honors Program gives in applying for the Fulbright Scholarship.