The Office of National Scholarships Advisory supports applicants through a year-long process
Twelve graduates of Arizona State University are embarking on the adventure of a lifetime through the Fulbright US Student Program as they begin to arrive in their host countries in the coming weeks.
Some, like Claire Agee, have already arrived in their host country. After an 18-hour trip, the May 2022 graduate arrived in Lappeenranta, Finland on August 9, where she will soon begin a Masters in Sustainable Supply Chain Management at LUT University.
“I’m so excited,” Agee said. “My hobbies are hiking and entomology, which makes the land of forests a perfect place to explore.”
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright Program is the largest and most comprehensive academic exchange program in the world. Of the more than 8,000 Fulbright scholarships awarded each year, 2,200 provide full funding to U.S. college graduates to pursue year-long research, study, or teaching projects abroad.
“There really is nothing quite like the Fulbright experience,” says Kyle Mox, associate dean for national scholarships at ASU. “Every Fulbright alumnus I know describes it as one of the best years of their lives.”
As the designated Fulbright Program Advisor for ASU, Mox oversees all aspects of the Fulbright application process. Each March, the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advice begins the recruitment and advising cycle for Fulbright with a series of events and workshops in anticipation of the April 1 application launch. Throughout the spring and summer, applicants meet with NAHO staff to explore award options, select countries, and begin writing their application essays.
“On average, successful applicants will have at least seven drafts of their proposal essays reviewed by someone at NAHO,” says Mox. “And that’s not counting the drafts they share with their mentor professors or in our peer-reviewed writing workshops.”
After an on-campus deadline in mid-September, the 50-80 ASU applicants then participate in on-campus interviews with faculty and staff committees that evaluate applicants and provide final suggestions for review before the deadline. for final submission in mid-October.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize what an elaborate process it is,” Mox says. “A candidate can easily spend over 100 hours perfecting an application. Submitting a Fulbright application is a major achievement in itself.
Over the years, the hard work of ASU students, faculty, and staff has paid off: In 11 of the last 12 competition cycles, ASU has ranked among the “top producers” of Fulbright recipients. , ranking third for US research. universities in 2013.
“What’s more remarkable is that ASU is generally the second-largest public university overall,” says Mox, who is also director of the Lorraine W. Frank Office of National Scholarships Advice.
“All the other top performing universities are elite private institutions like Harvard, Yale and Princeton. I don’t think our own students appreciate how well they are doing nationally.
Fulbright projects vary widely. For example, while Agee will use her award to fund the pursuit of higher education in Finland, Esther Almazan, who graduated in 2020 with an MFA in theater, will lead a performing arts project, “Yaqui and Béloideas: Yoeme and Irish in Conversation”, in collaboration with Irish scholars, artists and students.
During her year in Ireland, Almazan will lead writing workshops and produce a dramatic play that incorporates memories, family legends and other personal stories to compare and contrast the lived experiences of Native Americans and Irish people. His year will end with a live performance at the O’Donoghu Theater at the National University of Ireland in Galway.
“I was inspired by the mutual generosity of Native Americans who sent money to the Irish people during the Great Famine and the recent largesse of the Irish people to the Diné and Hopi tribes of Arizona struggling to survive COVID-19. “, wrote Almazon in his proposal. .
She hopes to explore the affinity between these two communities through creative performance.
“I love meeting native Irish people and immersing myself in their stories and experiences,” she says.
“And I can’t wait to hear their stories and be inspired to write my next play. I will also have a research space at the Moore Institute for Research in the Humanities, which really excites me!
Many ASU Fulbrighters opt for English Teaching Assistant, or ETA, awards, which place them in English-language classrooms around the world, where they serve as cultural ambassadors and help lead teachers design lessons on American culture and conversational English.
“I’m really looking forward to immersing myself in the community and building relationships with students and neighbors,” says Cristian Payan, who will serve as ETA in Mexico. Payan, who completed a master’s degree in legal studies at ASU in 2019, will draw on his experience volunteering with the International Rescue Committee, where he helped refugees study for their U.S. citizenship tests, as well as on the leadership skills he honed in the U.S. Army and as a college football player.
“Serving as ETA Fulbright is an opportunity to teach practical and business English to low-income communities in rural Mexico, while simultaneously giving back the same free education to others that I received through to the army,” Payan wrote in his application.
During his Fulbright year, Payan hopes to develop the cross-cultural communication skills he will need to excel as a diplomatic officer in the U.S. Foreign Service.
For many, the prospect of a Fulbright award is an opportunity to connect their personal journey with their professional aspirations. For example, Danielle Brister earned a Fulbright for a master’s degree in global health at National Taiwan University in Taipei, in preparation for an MD/PhD in epidemiology and a career at the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. United States.
But for Brister, who graduated from ASU in May 2022 with degrees in chemistry, biology and global health, the Fulbright year will be much more than an academic stepping stone.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but I was actually adopted from China,” she says. “So I see living in Taiwan as a special opportunity to call another country home by engaging with an unfamiliar culture, improving my Chinese language skills, and connecting with people who lead completely different lifestyles from the mine. I will be able to build a whole new social, academic and professional community. At the same time, I hope to learn more about myself and my ethnic heritage on a deeper level than I have ever been able to fully explore.
The departure of the graduates comes after a long process. After the mid-October submission deadline, applications are reviewed by a National Selection Committee, which then identifies semi-finalists for consideration by the host country Fulbright Commissions. Winners are notified throughout March and April, almost a year after the process began.
“The end of the application process is just the beginning of another story,” Mox says. “The weeks before departure can be a whirlwind.”
“It was a mix of preparation and fun,” says Agee.
“I probably spent another hundred hours preparing my documents, getting my residence permit and sorting out my luggage and my travel itinerary. But I also found a lot of time between both to research exactly what additional excursions I wanted to do in Finland.”
“This summer has definitely been one of the busiest,” Brister says. “I mainly worked on the application for a resident visa in Taiwan and on the preparation of my two giant suitcases. I also tried to see as many people here as possible before I left. Honestly, the feeling that I’m leaving the country hasn’t fully settled in yet – I still need someone to wake me up, because it feels like a dream!
Given the uncertainty of the months ahead, ASU Fulbrighters are suffering from some anxiety, though it is offset by the excitement of the adventures ahead.
“I’m nervous about finding a place to live,” says Almazon.
“There is a housing crisis in Ireland, especially in Galway. But I look forward to hearing surprising and compelling stories from people who need to be heard. I hope to learn more about the bond between Irish and Native Americans and get a better sense of their mutual generosity and support.
Agee admits she is anxious to survive Finland’s notoriously cold winters.
“I’ve only lived in Dallas and Arizona. I have no idea what it’s gonna be. But I also look forward to making lots of friends and setting a good example of American and Finnish cross-cultural relations. I want to experience everything the country has to offer, whether it’s hiking, local food or unique vacations,” she says. “I want to become a more global person so that I have a broader knowledge, not just of international supply chains. , but of the different viewpoints and values of people in business.
“I’ve lived in Arizona all my life,” Brister says.
“And I’ve never been to Taiwan, let alone Asia, so I’m a little nervous about moving and living in a whole new country. At the same time, it’s extremely exciting because I see this turning point in my life as an adventure and an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and grow as a person over the next two years. I look forward to exploring the culinary scene and life in Taipei, improving my Chinese and to play the violin in the university symphony.
“I have expectations that I would like to meet. And I want to make sure my students get the most out of the experience. But overall, I still hope to grow as a person,” says Payan.
“And I would also like to make sure that I can help someone achieve their dreams like people have helped me.”
The other eight ASU Fulbright Awards for the year 2022-2023 are: Miriam Goras, Award for Study and Research in Norway; Danika Kartchner, Graduate Scholarship in Taiwan; and English Teaching Award to Yoko Chavez, Argentina; Brittany Duran, South Korea; Kristina McCarthy, Kazakhstan; Taliah Rodriguez, Ghana; Wen Wendt, Mongolia; and Celeste Zuniga, Brazil.
The next deadline is September 13, when recent ASU graduates must submit completed application materials. Those interested in applying in future cycles can visit fulbright.asu.edu for an overview of the timeline and process.