U. places 10th for Fulbright grant


The University ranked 10th in the 2010-2011 Chronicle of Higher Education's Top Producers of U.S. Fulbright Students for a Research Institution.

With 10 undergraduate seniors or alumni and five graduate students chosen to study abroad, the University last year produced a record high number of students selected as Fulbright grantees.

"Setting a University record for Fulbright recipients is a point of immense pride for Rutgers," said University President Richard L. McCormick via e-mail. "It shows how talented our students are, and it is a testament to the hard work of our faculty and of [Director of External Fellowships and Postgraduate Guidance Arthur] Casciato's and [Graduate School Assistant Dean] David Pickens' office in preparing strong candidates for this prestigious award."

This year, there was an upsurge in the number of applicants for the Fulbright program, Casciato said. Undergraduate seniors and University graduates sent out more than 80 applications.

Through the Fulbright program, there are two opportunities available for Fulbright scholars to study abroad for about a year, either as English teaching assistants in one of about 55 countries or independent researchers at one of about 155 universities worldwide, Casciato said.

"Fulbright grants are one of the most visible benchmarks by which to measure the value of the education available to students at any major research institution," he said. "Fulbright gives our undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to realize the full meaning of ‘local roots, global reach.'"

Applicants for next year applied to study in 33 different countries up from last year's 21 desired sites, Casciatio said.

One of the 86 applicants for this year was Lee DiPrinzio, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

DiPrinzio saw the Fulbright grant as an ideal opportunity to utilize his minor in Spanish before going to medical school. He applied to become an English teaching assistant in Spain, after spending a five-week study abroad program there over the summer.

"There's just too much to see in five weeks, and I really wanted to go back at some point in my life," he said. "Learning Spanish has been a passion of mine for a while now, and I would like to help create a passion for learning English for the students in Spain."

Diana Won, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, is also another Fulbright hopeful and applied to teach English in Colombia to further develop her interest in urbanization and development.

"I hope to work with internally displaced persons who are living in many of Colombia's cities," Won said. "In doing so I will be continuing my understanding of how people react and conceptualize government policies and the effect it has on them."

Of the 10 undergraduate Fulbright grantees from the University last year, seven are teaching English, he said. There are now three in Germany, one in Colombia, one in Egypt, one in Spain and one in Bulgaria.

The remaining three undergraduate scholars — two in Peru and one in Armenia — are doing independent research, Casciato said. All five of the graduate students are doing research.

A Fulbright U.S. Student Program National Screening Committee begins reviewing applications at the beginning of November to select potential candidates, and at the end of January, it sends out a list of recommended recipients, Casciato said.

The committee decides which applicants are forwarded to their desired host countries, where another Fulbright Committee on-site finally selects the Fulbright grantees, he said. The Fulbright National Screening Committee last year received a total of 8,527 applications nationally, of which 1,639 scholars were selected.

Among the undergraduates or recent graduates selected, there was a wide variety of majors represented, including French, German, Spanish, English, Latino and Caribbean studies, economics, history, anthropology, genetics and women's and gender studies, Casciato said.

The state of the economy and the Office of Distinguished Fellowships' work over the summer are reasons for the increase in the number of students applying for the Fulbright program, he said.

Casciato said he spoke to more students than ever before last year and tried to convince them to apply.

"I'm very proud that in the four fellowship seasons I've worked at Rutgers the number of Fulbright applicants among graduating seniors and graduates of Rutgers has grown from eight in my first year to an all-time high of 86 this year," he said.

In the past, all of the selected students had either a demonstrable record of being involved in research outside the classroom or experience as teachers or mentors or both, he said.

"I want to thank the students themselves for trying," Casciato said. "Rutgers has produced more Fulbright grantees than ever before, [which] is largely the product of the students' hard work and willingness to make themselves vulnerable to a very demanding selection process."

The Fulbright Grant was created in 1946 by the U.S. Congress to enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries, according to the program's website.


Reena Diamante

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