University named top producer of Fulbright students

University named top producer of Fulbright students

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Comons

After being named one of the top 25 universities for producing Fulbright students, the University has shown that not only is it a leading institution in academics and football, it has influence that can be spread internationally.

“We have some really great opportunities to top-notch students who are so capable of competing with other top-notch universities,” Jackson Knappen, a recent UA graduate in biology and Spanish said. “A lot of times Fulbright gets attributed to Harvard, Yale, other Ivy Leagues. Alabama’s just as competitive as those things.”

Knappen graduated in 2017 and will be teaching in Spain on a Fulbright grant. 

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the University produced 15 Fulbright winners as a research institution and is listed just three spots below Johns Hopkins University. The number of grants awarded to students for international research and education this year sets a record for the University. 

“I think it helps to describe us as a school that’s interested in global learning and interested in international programs and has students who recognize the importance of that and have the academic ability to win these awards,” Dr. Teresa Wise, associate provost for international education and global outreach, said. 

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program gives grants for individual study and research as well as English-teaching positions. It focuses on international education and outreach. Awardees will teach and conduct research around the world representing the United States and the University as an educational and research institution. 

“I think that there’s a lot of factors when it comes to Fulbright,” Knappen said. “One of the biggest things is cultural competency or the history of cultural exchange. As a Fulbright scholar you're really representing the United States abroad.”

Having a record-setting number of Fulbright scholars is a great victory for the University, Beverly Hawk, director of global and community engagement for the Center of Community Based Partnership, said. Hawk is also the campus Fulbright program advisor. She helps students submit their applications to win a Fulbright grant. 

“[Students] can go on the Fulbright website and see the many millions of dollars that are given away for overseas study and service,” Hawk said. 

Alex LeViness graduated in 2017 with her bachelor's degree in physics and math. She is conducting research at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Greifswald, Germany on her Fulbright grant. The Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics has one of the biggest stellarator fusion devices in the world. 

“I wanted a way to go to Germany because I had never been before because I had been too busy studying and doing research and stuff,” LeViness said. “My German professor told me about the Fulbright, and she originally said I should apply for an English teaching one.”

However, LeViness wanted to be able to be abroad while still applying her studies. During a visit to Princeton last year on a crash-course, LeViness tried to reach out to the Planck Institute, but they did not respond at first. 

“One of the professors worked with the lab here so I barged into his office and was like, 'You’ve gotta make these guys in Germany respond to my emails because I want to work for them and you’re going to help me apply for this scholarship,’” LeViness said. 

LeViness said her initiative with the professor was instrumental in getting her Fulbright award. 

After her time in Germany, LeViness plans to go to New Jersey to start a PhD program in plasma physics at Princeton.

Students interested in a Fulbright grant can visit the Capstone International Center website to find the Fulbright section. 

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