Eleven seniors and alumni submitted Fulbright applications to go to other countries and help teach English. They applied to eight different countries and come from a range of majors and programs.
The Fulbright program is a very prestigious program that allows the applicants to go to a county of their choosing for one year fully funded. The applicants can be going on an English Teaching Assistantship, a research project, or to pursue a master’s degree in their field. All of the countries available for choosing have foreign policy ties with the United States. This program is like an ambassadorial program to help strengthen those foreign ties.
Dr. Matthew Price is the faculty member over this application and the one to go to if interested. He originally learned the ropes of this application at the University of Illinois, and when he got here realized that no one was applying for the program but that he could help people win it. He asked the Dean of Arts and Sciences to help the students apply for the application and has been doing ever since, and now it is one of his official positions.
The application does not seem difficult at first glance but requires a lot of work to make it as perfect as possible. First the applicant has to fill out a questionnaire, submit their transcript, and have three recommendation letters from faculty members. The second part, the bulk of the application, is two different statements that the students write. This part is difficult because most of the countries that the students apply to do not interview the students because there are so many applicants from across the nation.
The first statement is a clear and interesting personal statement about what makes them a good ambassador for the program, to tell their story, and why Fulbright would choose them. The second statement is the grant purpose, which is why they want to do what they are applying for. It gives space to outline any research projects, how they are prepared teach English in their chosen country, or how their master’s degree will help follow the Fulbright mission of creating better communication across the globe. By the end of the five month process, these applicants will have written about 10 drafts per statement.
“Go beyond the cliché of changing the world and figure out a way to change it,” was how Dr. Price described the program and its influence. There is a strong encouragement to apply if eligible because of the amazing opportunities that it can provide. To apply, one has to be a senior in college or have less than five years of experience in their field of study. It can take your chosen career to new heights, open doors previously hidden, and create more opportunities.
Margaret Carpenter is one of this year’s amazing applicants who taught herself Portuguese and travels to Haiti once a year to volunteer. She will be graduating in 2020 with a degree in English and applied to travel to Brazil on the English Teaching Assistantship.
“The type of cultural exchange that will help our world,” Carpenter said about the program. She thinks it will help open doors to grad school and that the experience will be helpful in her career. Carpenter expects it to change her personally in amazing ways and is excited to discover what kind of person it will help her to be. She also credits Dr. Price to her doing so well and making the application process so much better.
“I’m just around all of these courageous students,” Dr. Price said when asked about his favorite part of the program. He is extremely proud of all the students who applied and says that even if some of them do not get it, they should be proud of themselves. When talking to Price, the most noticeable thing was how energized he was about the program and the applicants. The opportunities that it provides for the students, the courage in the applicants for doing such amazing things, and how much work they are all willing to put into the application made him light up with energy and excitement. This program is higher education at its best.