Seven from K Earn Fulbright Scholarships

Seven Kalamazoo College representatives, including six from the Class of 2021, are receiving high honors from the federal government that will provide them with international learning opportunities in the upcoming academic year.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships to graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists so they may teach English, perform research or study abroad for one academic year.

In some cases, program timing remains up in the air due to lingering issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. However, recipients of Fulbright grants are selected as a result of their academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields, making the recognition an honor. Here are this year’s K-connected recipients.

Helen Pelak ’21

Only one person is chosen each year to receive a Fulbright Western Sydney University Award in the Arts, Environment and Public Health. Helen Pelak is thrilled to be that person as it will help her work toward a master’s degree in public health and develop a deeper understanding of global health care systems.

2021 Fulbright Scholar Helen Pelak
Helen Pelak ’21

Pelak double majored in biology and women, gender and sexuality studies, minored in psychology, and studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary, as a part of the College’s program in cognitive science during her years at K.

During her study abroad experience, Pelak developed an infected blister after taking a ropes course and needed to be treated at a hospital, where she was fascinated with the Hungarian health care system.

Global health care systems inspired Pelak to look for opportunities to go abroad again. While she was writing her senior integrated project (SIP) on Cesarean section rates in the United States through a feminist and intersectional lens, Pelak learned about the research of Professor Hannah Dahlen, a midwifery scholar at Western Sydney.

“As part of the application process, Professor Dahlen wrote a letter of research invitation for me,” Pelak said. “I expect to further gain a global perspective on health care and health care systems. I also expect to become a more independent and well-rounded individual who is able to incorporate the lessons and experiences from the Australia system of care and way of life to my future work as an obstetrician-gynecologist in the United States.”

Katherine Miller-Purrenhage ’21

Katherine Miller-Purrenhage, a double major in music and German with a minor in philosophy at K, will serve as an English teaching assistant in Germany at E.T.A Hoffmann-Gymnasium Bamberg and Gymnasium Höchstadt a.d. Aisch, as she splits time between the cities of Bamberg and Höchstadt.

Fulbright Scholar Katherine Miller-Purrenhage
Katherine Miller-Purrenhage ’21

Miller-Purrenhage participated in ensembles such as the Kalamazoo Philharmonia, Academy Street Winds and College Singers. She also was a member of the Delta Phi Alpha National German Honor Society, and served the German department as a teaching assistant during her time at K. Off campus, she volunteered with El Concilio, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the Latinx community in greater Kalamazoo.

Her study abroad experiences in Erlangen, Germany, piqued her interest in the Fulbright program as she interned at a German middle school where she helped teach in the German as a Second Language and English classrooms.

“I loved teaching and learning about educational spaces that ought to be uplifting, and what I as an educator could do to make them that way so every student felt included and celebrated,” Miller-Purrenhage said. “I expect this experience will be very different than when I studied abroad because I’ll be able to focus more on bonding with my community. This will benefit me as I learn to grow and better participate in cultural exchange while immersing myself in the German language again.”

Sophia Goebel ’21

Fulbright Scholar Sophia Goebel
Sophia Goebel ’21

Sophia Goebel, a critical ethnic studies and computer science double major at K, will be an English teaching assistant at the University of Malaga in Spain. There, she will continue building the teaching skills she established on study abroad in Oaxaca, Mexico, where she developed and facilitated an expressive-arts workshop to explore the topic of communal territories with students from San Martín Huamelulpan, an indigenous community.

“I loved being able to connect with the participants in Oaxaca and learning alongside them,” Goebel said. “I spent some time assisting in their English lessons and it was so much fun to think about my language from the perspective of a language learner and brainstorm how best to teach them pronunciation or vocabulary. In turn, they helped teach me Spanish. That inspired me to try to spend more time in an intercultural, interlingual type of learning space through Fulbright, and I also wanted to spend more time exploring the role of teacher.

“I hope to build a lot of new relationships and figure out how to establish a life for myself without the crutch of my school community,” she added. “I’m excited to learn more about who I am outside of being a student. I aim to continue learning about pedagogy, something we explored a lot at the writing center, and developing as a teacher, facilitator and mentor. ​I’m also really trying to improve my Spanish. I’m very excited to learn more about the history and culture of Spain, especially after learning a little bit about the country’s politics this past year in a course at K. I hope to develop a more compassionate view of U.S. culture and identify elements that are meaningful and important to me, something which I anticipate will be somewhat of a challenge.”

Molly Roberts ’21

Fulbright Scholar Molly Roberts
Molly Roberts ’21

Molly Roberts, a French and psychology double major at K, had the misfortune of missing out on two opportunities to study abroad. First, she was the only applicant interested in a spring short-term experience in Strasbourg, France, during her sophomore year, forcing the trip’s cancellation. Then, COVID-19 spread across the world during her junior year.

“I still yearned to be immersed in the French language and culture,” Roberts said. “In addition, graduate school is something that I’ve been interested in pursuing for a while. When I found a master’s degree program with an adviser, Dr. Fabien D’Hondt, who shared similar passions to me and had a research project in the field of neuroscience focusing on PTSD, a Fulbright scholarship seemed like the next logical step in my career path.”

Roberts expects her education to benefit from her research opportunities, but she’ll also be working for the Centre Nationale de Ressources et de Résilience (CN2R), an organization that takes current PTSD-focused research and puts it into practice to hep trauma survivors.

“This groundbreaking, accessible research-to-practice approach is what I expect to bring back with me to the States,” she said.

Margaret Totten ’21

Fulbright Scholar Margaret Totten
Margaret Totten ’21

As a Fulbright honoree, Margaret Totten will serve as an English teaching assistant in Thailand, a place she knows well from her time on study abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

“I had hoped to return to continue learning about Thai language, culture and the natural environment,” said Totten, who had a computer science major, a math minor and an environmental studies concentration at K. “One of my major goals is to improve my Thai speaking skills and form meaningful relationships with people in my host community.”

Nina Szalkiewicz ’21

Fulbright Scholar Nina Szalkiewicz
Nina Szalkiewicz ’21

Nina Szalkiewicz, a business major and German minor at K, will follow in the footsteps of Georgie Andrews ’20, who served this past academic year as an English teaching assistant in Austria through Fulbright.

Szalkiewicz first went abroad through K when she spent six months in Bonn, Germany, leading to what she called her wonderful and surprising experiences studying German, thereby creating her interest in Fulbright.

“By pushing my boundaries and opening myself up to new cultures and customs, I grew tremendously as an individual which has changed my perspective toward my life,” Szalkiewicz said. “I began considering Fulbright more intently after reflecting on my Intercultural Research Project (ICRP) at the Friedrich-Ebert-Gymnasium. Much to my surprise, teaching and mentoring at this German middle school was one of my most enjoyable endeavors and something I gained the most from.”

Evelyn Rosero ’13

Fulbright Scholar Evelyn Rosero
Evelyn Rosero ’13

Evelyn Rosero was a human development and social relations major at K, leading to two years of volunteer work in Detroit with Teach for America, a nonprofit organization that finds teachers for low-income schools. Now, she’s a teacher in East Los Angeles, California, who wants to gain a global perspective on education while serving Fulbright as an English teaching assistant in South Korea.

On a personal note, she’s happy South Korea is her assigned destination because she’s a big fan of the South Korean boy band BTS and hopes to see one of their concerts. However, her primary goals are professional and developed with a philanthropic heart. She wants to find connections between Korean students’ identities and English-language content; share her American identity to engage in dialogue; continue learning Korean to empathize better with her students; and grow beyond her personal comfort zones.

“I am really excited to partake in this experience, especially as an educator,” Rosero said. “Even though I have been teaching for eight years, there is still so much to learn. As a foreigner, I will educate myself on my students’ Korean background and the community in which they reside.”

About the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants, chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, with opportunities to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research in more than 140 countries throughout the world each year. In addition, about 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

For more information about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, visit its website.

K Among Top Producers of Fulbright Recipients

Fulbright Recipient Honors Logo
Kalamazoo College is among the top producers of Fulbright recipients for the 2020-21 academic year.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced Monday that Kalamazoo College is among the top producers of Fulbright recipients among colleges and universities for the 2020-21 academic year.

Six K representatives out of 15 applicants were named Fulbright recipients, placing the College among the top-producing bachelor’s institutions for the third time in the last four years. It was the most recipients among colleges of K’s category in Michigan.

Many candidates apply for the Fulbright Program as graduating seniors, though alumni may apply as well. Graduating seniors apply through their institution. Alumni can apply through their institution or as at-large candidates.

K’s representatives in 2020-21 and their host countries are:

  • Georgie Andrews ’20, Austria
  • Grace Beck ’19, Colombia
  • Paige Chung ’20, Vietnam
  • Brett Fitzgerald ’19, Moldova
  • Matthew Flotemersch ’20, Germany
  • Juan Avila ’19, Andorra

“This recognition shows how our students desire the cultural experiences they gain from being abroad, and they get those experiences through their opportunities at K,” Center for International Programs Executive Director Margaret Wiedenhoeft said. “It shows that our faculty and international partners inspire and enable students to make a difference in the world.”

About the Fulbright Program

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants, chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, with opportunities to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research abroad each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in more than 140 countries throughout the world.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, funded by an annual appropriation from Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education.

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas. In addition, about 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

Fulbright Honors Five from K

Five Kalamazoo College representatives are receiving one of the highest honors the federal government provides in regard to scholarship and international exchange. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to teach English, perform research or study abroad for one academic year. Some of the programs are in doubt and travel availability is uncertain this year given the COVID-19 pandemic. However, K’s representatives, should their programs ranging from Austria to Vietnam be uninterrupted, include several from the classes of 2019 and 2020.

Fulbright Scholar Georgie Andrews
Georgie Andrews ’20 plans to visit Austria through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Georgie Andrews ’20, Austria

Andrews was a business and studio art major at K, where she played on the women’s soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams. She quickly became homesick when she traveled to Austria as a high school student, but her K study abroad experience in Bonn, Germany, led to her desire to travel more.

“I loved the culture and the atmosphere, and I was not homesick, which has made me feel like I could live there longer,” she said. “I think the main reason I wanted to return after study abroad was loving the public transportation, easy access to other countries, and the small grocery stores. I thought Fulbright would be a good chance to learn about myself as a teacher and also get to live in Austria or Germany again and continue to work on my German.”

Grace Beck ’19, Colombia

Beck was a biology and Spanish double major at K, where she joined the Asian Pacific Islander Student Association and Frelon, participated in World Night and Asia Fest, and volunteered as a teacher’s assistant at El Sol elementary in Kalamazoo.

Fulbright Scholar Grace Beck
COVID-19 has forced Fulbright to cancel the program in Colombia for Grace Beck ’19, but she hopes to return to Spain.

“I was very lucky to have an amazing study abroad experience in Ecuador and it definitely inspired me to seek more opportunities to live abroad after college, especially in South America,” Beck said. “I’ve also had the chance to travel to Peru, and in both countries, I was blown away by the beautiful scenery and the incredibly warm and friendly people I met. I decided to apply for the Fulbright in Colombia because I wanted to explore another country in South America.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Fulbright to cancel the program in Colombia, but Beck hopes to return to Spain this fall, where she was an English assistant this past school year in Murcia, Spain.

“My students were at times chaotic, but extremely eager to learn English and about where I came from,” Beck said. “Every time I said ‘Michigan,’ they heard ‘Mexico.’ When the lockdown started in mid-March, everyone in Spain had to stay inside for nearly 50 days, and my school asked for my help with online lessons. I chatted with my students about various topics and even played games like Bingo with them on Zoom. It was a strange but fun year and I’m looking forward to moving to Madrid in the fall if travel is possible. I still hope to get to Colombia one day, too, when this is all over.”

Paige Chung ’20, Vietnam

Paige Chung
Paige Chung ’20 plans to visit Vietnam thanks to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Chung double majored in critical ethnic studies and English with a creative writing focus at K, where she worked in the Writing Center, Intercultural Center and Residential Life. She also participated in the Chinese Lion Dance Troupe and tried swimming, tae kwon do, K du Soleil and the improvisation group Monkapult.

“I chose K because I wanted to be far away from home,” Chung said. “I fell in love with the brick road and the tight knit community when I came to visit. It also helps that they offer competitive financial aid packages.”

Chung said she is thrilled to visit Vietnam as a member of the Vietnamese diaspora.

“I plan to eat food all the time,” she said. “Vietnam is abundant with flavors, textures and smells. I love my people’s food more than anything. I also plan to practice my language learning and build relationships in Vietnam.”

Brett Fitzgerald
In Moldova, Brett Fitzgerald plans to volunteer with a nongovernmental organization, expand his musical interests, speak at conferences and universities, and work on his language skills through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Brett Fitzgerald ’19, Moldova

Fitzgerald was a political science and economics double major at K while playing on the men’s lacrosse team. He also was a clarinetist with the Symphonic Band and performed in several recitals.

His study abroad experience in Strasbourg, France, included volunteering at the AGORAé at the University of Strasbourg, an organization providing discount food and a social environment to low-income college students. An Elton W. Ham Grant, provided by K’s Political Science Department, and later allowed Fitzgerald to study child poverty in Romania.

“I jumped at the opportunity to teach English in Moldova through the Fulbright program not only because of its fascinating history and intercultural population, but also because the experience I gained through my Ham grant,” Fitzgerald said. “If it weren’t for the College’s support in allowing me the opportunity to study elements of my SIP in Romania, and thereby gaining a greater connection to education abroad and its impacts on shaping future generations in the region, I may not have even applied to the Fulbright in Moldova.”

In Moldova, he hopes to volunteer with a nongovernmental organization, expand his musical interests, speak at conferences and universities, and work on his language skills.

Fitzgerald credits Jessica Fowle ’00 and Anne Dueweke ’84, who have been K’s directors of grants, fellowships and research during his application process, for providing the guidance that have led to his opportunity.

Matthew Flotemersch
Matthew Flotemersch ’20 will teach at a school in Hamburg, Germany, through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program

Matthew Flotemersch ’20, Germany

During his time at K, Flotemersch — a German studies major and philosophy minor — played on the men’s soccer team, acted through the Festival Playhouse, participated in Monkapult, and had a study abroad experience in Erlangen, Germany.

“My last week of study abroad was hectic,” he said. “Between packing, planning, goodbyes and everything else, I never really had a moment to just reflect on everything that I had done there in a year, everything that I had experienced. When my train pulled away from Erlangen for the last time, though, all the memories and feelings flooded back to me. With them came the realization that I had to return, through Fulbright or otherwise.”

When he returns to Germany through Fulbright, he will teach at a school in Hamburg.

“I can’t emphasize enough how excited I am to immerse myself in the culture and language again; this time, though, with a year of experience in Germany and another year of language courses at K under my belt,” Flotemersch said. “Any student abroad wants to take time to travel and explore, and of course I want to do more of that, but with my Fulbright year I want to be more active in my local community.”

Avila Selected as Alternate

A sixth K representative, Juan Avila ’19, has been named a Fulbright alternate. He could be selected to serve the program in Andorra should additional funds or an additional place become available.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants, chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, with opportunities to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions to shared international concerns. K consistently has been identified in recent years as one of the country’s top-producing Fulbright small colleges. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 fields of study are offered Fulbright awards each year in more than 140 countries throughout the world. The program, funded by an annual appropriation from Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is managed through the U.S. Department of State.

K Professor Spotlights Fossil-Fuel Dependence

A Kalamazoo College art professor will receive international attention while combating fossil-fuel dependence and climate change as a recipient of a Fulbright award in the 2019-20 academic year.

fossil-fuel dependence
On Thursday, Sept. 12, Art Professor Tom Rice will discuss his drawings and installations of the past five years, along with what inspires him to explore environmental issues such as fossil-fuel dependence through art, in a forum at the University of Alberta.

Tom Rice, K’s Robert and Jo-Ann Stewart professor of art in the Art and Art History Department, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program award in visual arts, allowing him to research the realities of fossil-fuel extraction and create mixed-media art at the University of Alberta in Canada.

His art installation, titled “Shifting Uncertainties: The Land We Live On,” is on display through Sept. 20 at the university’s Fine Arts Building. The display depicts Rice’s concern for the environment, fossil-fuel dependence and the growing global crisis related to climate change. On Sept. 12, Rice will discuss his drawings and installations of the past five years, along with what inspires him to explore environmental issues through art, in a forum at the university.

Rice notes the key question with his work is how we retreat from an industry that is enmeshed into our lives and comprises the foundation of our economy.

“The award is important to me because I will have the chance to exchange ideas with leading artists and scholars doing work on climate justice and petroculture,” Rice said. “K’s focus on social-justice leadership includes climate justice and the implications for humans and non-human species alike.”

Rice is one of more than 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research or provide expertise abroad for the 2019-20 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program. Fulbright recipients are selected based on their academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service and demonstrated leadership. The awards are funded through the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s international education-exchange program designed to build connections between U.S. citizens and people from other countries. The program is funded through an annual Congressional appropriation made to the Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also support the program, which operates in more than 160 countries.

Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has given more than 390,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists and professionals in a variety of backgrounds and fields opportunities to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute solutions to international problems.

Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in many fields, including 59 who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, 84 who have received Pulitzer Prizes, and 37 who have served as a head of state or government.

Fulbright Allows Student to Retrace Her Heritage in Lithuania

Imagine an opportunity to travel abroad, retrace your heritage, teach English in a foreign country, greet family you’ve never known and promote international understanding between cultures. Katie Johnson ’18 will have that opportunity through a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant that will take her to Lithuania this fall.

Katie Johnson Fulbright Lithuania
Katie Johnson ’18 developed a taste for international travel when she studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary. She liked the experience so much that she decided to apply for a Fulbright grant when she returned. That grant will take her this fall to Lithuania.

Johnson – a business major and psychology minor from Okemos, Michigan – has yet to receive the specific assignment that details her Fulbright destination city and school. She expects, however, to work in a rural village within about three hours of the capital, Vilnius.

Johnson will travel to Washington, D.C., for an orientation in July before heading to Lithuania in late August or September.

Kalamazoo College was identified as one of the top-producing Fulbright colleges and universities in the 2017-18 academic year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers fellowships for U.S. graduating seniors, graduate students, young professionals and artists to research, study or teach English abroad for one academic year.

Such recognition is one of the highest honors the federal government gives with regard to scholarship and international exchange. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected as a result of their academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields, to promote international understanding.

“I feel very fortunate to have attended K,” said Johnson, who has also served on the Athletic Leadership Council, received internships and held an externship at Ryzome Investment Advisors during her college years. “I don’t think I would’ve had these opportunities at another school.”

Johnson chose Kalamazoo College because attending would allow her to play for the women’s lacrosse team while still getting to study abroad. That led her during her junior year to Budapest, Hungary, where the people she met and the independence she gained shaped her world view and sparked her desire to seek more adventures.

“I got back from study abroad and I decided to apply for a Fulbright because I wanted to study abroad again,” Johnson said, noting she soon began a year-long application process. “I thought the opportunity to teach English was interesting. Plus, my grandfather is from Lithuania, and my grandma and great-grandma were teachers. It seemed like a great fit.”

Since then, Johnson has begun learning Lithuanian through her grandfather.

“It’s a hard language to pick up because only about 8 million people in the world speak it,” Johnson said, although she is attending a church in Chicago where the sermons are in Lithuanian and talking with friends who have traveled to Lithuania. She also has a best friend from Estonia with whom she bonds over a similar culture and family background including grandparents who immigrated to the United States for the same reasons.

“I’m going to go and hope for the best because I want to understand more about the Lithuanian culture and how it has changed since my grandpa arrived after World War II,” Johnson said.

Among recent K representatives receiving Fulbright grants, Johnson joins:

  • Andrea Beitel ’17, who earned a research/study award and is in the United Kingdom.
  • Riley Cook ’15, who earned a research/study award to travel to Germany.
  • Dejah Crystal ’17, who earned an English teaching assistantship in Taiwan.
  • Sapana Gupta ’17, who earned an English teaching assistantship in Germany.

Crystal One of K’s Bumper Crop of Fulbright Students

Kalamazoo College has been recognized as a top producer of Fulbright students for the 2017-2018 academic year — among them Dejah Crystal ’17. Here’s a closer look at Crystal, the work she’s doing in the Fulbright program and the role her K experience played.

Dejah Crystal one of K's Fulbright Scholars in the classroom
Dejah Crystal, one of Kalamazoo College’s Fulbright students, is an English teacher at Jheng Yi Elementary School on the tiny island of Kinmen in the Republic of China (Taiwan.)

What are you doing as a Fulbright student? 

I live on the tiny island of Kinmen in the Republic of China (Taiwan), and I work as an English teacher/teacher’s assistant at Jheng Yi Elementary School. Every week I solo-teach six classes (grades two to six) and I co-teach eight classes with two local English teachers (grades three to six). On Fridays, I work at an English language learning center called English Village. There, we teach fifth- and sixth-graders from across the island in a full day of hands-on English language learning activities. I also spend time volunteering at the local university, NQU, participating in writing workshops called “The A to Z Collective.” We work with college students who are interested in improving their English writing skills. Outside of the classroom I love exploring the island with my friends and driving around on my moped scooter when the weather is nice.

How did K help you prepare to be a Fulbright student?

While at K I majored in East Asian studies and studied abroad in Beijing. Those experiences led me to discover my passion for studying Mandarin and later led me to find the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program in Taiwan. I have always loved teaching, so this opportunity ended up being a wonderful fit.

What do you have planned next?

I hope to continue teaching in Taiwan, and continue to grow both academically in my study of Mandarin and professionally in my role as an English teacher.

 

Kalamazoo College is a Top Producer of Fulbright Students

Kalamazoo College is proud to be included on the list of U.S. colleges and universities producing the most Fulbright students for the 2017-18 academic year. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced the honor Sunday.

Fulbright Students logo
Four K representatives out of 12 applicants earned Fulbright awards this year, placing the College among the top Fulbright-producing bachelor’s institutions.

Four K representatives out of 12 applicants were named Fulbright winners, placing the College among the top Fulbright-producing bachelor’s institutions. Many candidates apply as graduating seniors, but alumni can apply as well. Graduating seniors apply through their institution. Alumni can apply through their institution or as at-large candidates.

K’s representatives are:

  • Andrea Beitel ’17, who earned a research/study award and is now in the U.K.;
  • Riley Cook ’15, who earned a research/study award and is in Germany;
  • Dejah Crystal ’17, who earned an English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan; and
  • Sapana Gupta ’17, who earned an English Teaching Assistantship in Germany.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 380,000 participants, chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential, with opportunities to exchange ideas and contribute to solutions to shared international concerns. More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research abroad each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in more than 140 countries throughout the world.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, funded by an annual appropriation from Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education.

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas. In addition, about 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

East Asian Studies Students Earn Boren, Fulbright Honors

Three East Asian studies students at Kalamazoo College have earned prestigious competitive grants, allowing two to study abroad in Japan in the 2017-18 academic year, and a third to serve in an English teaching assistantship in Taiwan. Ihechi Ezuruonye ’19, of Southfield, Mich., and Molly Brueger ’19, of Arlington, Va., secured Boren Awards. Dejah Crystal ’17, of Standish, Maine, has earned a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award.

Boren Award Winner Ihechi Ezuruonye
Boren Award honoree Ihechi Ezuruonye will study for 11 months in Kyoto, Japan.

Boren Winners to Study in Japan

Boren Awards are worth up to $20,000 depending on the student’s financial need and how long the student stays overseas. Ezuruonye and Brueger were granted the maximum. The grants are funded by the federal government through the National Security Education Program, which focuses on geographic areas, languages and fields deemed critical to U.S. national security.

The awards are named after former U.S. Sen. David L. Boren, the principal author of the legislation that created the National Security Education Program. Boren Scholars (undergrads) and Fellows (graduate students) study in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. The winners commit to federal service for at least a year after graduation. Ezuruonye and Brueger will study from September 2017 to August 2018 in Kyoto, a former Japanese capital, at Doshisha University.

Ezuruonye, an international and area studies and East Asian studies double major with a Japanese concentration, sees similarities between Asian and African cultures, prompting her interest in Japan’s language, history and food. She hopes to work at the U.S. Embassy in Japan as an ambassador or deputy ambassador after graduation to fulfill her federal obligation. The study abroad program first attracted Ezuruonye to K.

Boren Award Winner Molly Brueger
Boren Award honor Molly Brueger will study for 11 months in Kyoto, Japan.

“Learning the language and the culture helps us understand the people,” Ezuruonye said. “If we’re more willing to talk and we’re learning the same language, it brings us one step closer together.”

Brueger, an international and area studies major with Japanese and Chinese emphases, first learned of K through the “Colleges That Change Lives” book by Loren Pope. Pope is a higher-education expert and former New York Times education editor, who describes 40 dynamic colleges, including K, that excel at developing potential, values and initiative in students, while providing the foundation for success beyond college.

Brueger wants to serve abroad in the Peace Corps as an English teacher to fulfill her federal service requirement. She credits East Asian studies Professor Dennis Frost, International Programs Director Margaret Wiedenhoeft, Adviser and Assistant Professor of Chinese Yue Hong, and two of K’s previous Boren winners – A.J. Convertino and Amanda Johnson – for a combination of encouragement, recommendations and essay assistance.

“I was surprised because (Boren scholarships) are so competitive,” Brueger said. “I’m really honored to receive the maximum. I’ll definitely put it to good use in becoming proficient in Japanese.”

Brueger will intern at the Chengdu Consulate General in China’s Sichuan Province this summer before heading to Japan.

Fulbright Recipient Traveling to Taiwan

Crystal is graduating in June with a degree in East Asian studies on a China track after just three years at K. Her study abroad experience took her to

Fulbright Winner Dejah Crystal
Fulbright winner Dejah Crystal will serve in a teaching assistantship in Taiwan.

Capital University in Beijing, although she will serve in an English teaching assistantship for 11 months beginning in August on the small Taiwanese island of Kinmen. After this opportunity, she would like to continue teaching in East Asia or seek a graduate degree there.

Crystal agrees she has found her professional calling in teaching because she has loved working with children through K experiences such as Community Advocates for Parents and Students (CAPS). CAPS is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization, which provides tutoring opportunities to Kalamazoo Public Schools students from kindergarteners to adults.

Crystal’s Fulbright-application process began as a first-year student when she heard another student was applying for a similar opportunity. After a couple of years of reviews from K’s Fulbright Committee, essay assistance from faculty, and general support from family, she thanks people such as her mom, stepmom and dad, Frost, Hong, Wiedenhoeft, K Global Health Director Diane Kiino and Professor Madeline Chu.

“I’m incredibly honored and excited,” Crystal said.

The federal government created the Fulbright Program in 1946, naming it after U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and the people of other countries through education, culture and science. Crystal is one of about 1,900 U.S. citizens who will study, conduct research or teach abroad through the program in the coming academic year.