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Record tied: 13 William & Mary students receive Fulbright grants

  • W&M around the world
    W&M around the world  The recent graduates who received Fulbright grants will travel around the globe researching and teaching during 2013-14. Morrison Mast ’12, pictured here, will travel to Panama with his full grant to develop a long-term monitoring program for a globally significant and as-yet unstudied population of leatherback sea turtles.  Photo by Elliott Blumberg
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Editor's note: Since this story was published, one of the alternates listed below was selected for a grant, bringing the total of awardees up to 14 and setting a new record for W&M. Read more here.

Thirteen recent William & Mary graduates have been awarded Fulbright U.S. student grants, tying an institutional record set in 2010. Six other alumni have been named alternates. 

The recipients, who went through the university's Fulbright application process, will use the grants to travel to countries around the world during 2013-14, teaching and conducting research in a variety of fields.

Three students – Brett Evans ’13, Morrison Mast ’12, and Michelle Repper ’13 – received full grants to fund an entire year of dedicated research. 

Evans, a classical-studies major whose grant will take him to the United Kingdom, plans to use his year to earn a master’s degree in classical reception at the University of Bristol. 

“I worked as a peer scholarship advisor in the Charles Center, and as such I was surrounded by applicants for the Fulbright and U.K. scholarships starting in my freshman year,” Evans recalled. “The thought of living abroad, studying abroad, and above all, meeting, working, and conversing with such remarkable peers – I couldn't resist applying myself.” 

Mast, who majored in biology as well as environmental science and public policy, plans to build on his experience in community-based conservation programs by developing a long-term monitoring program for a globally significant and as-yet unstudied population of leatherback sea turtles in Panama. 

Repper, an art and art history major who launched Acropolis, William & Mary’s first art history publication, will travel to India to continue her research on Amrita Sher-Gil, a half-Indian, half-Hungarian modernist artist. She plans to follow Sher-Gil’s footsteps across India to discover the nature of the artist’s own transformative journey, a subject Repper first explored in her undergraduate thesis, earning high honors. 

Ten other students received English Teaching Assistantship grants (ETAs), providing them the means to help teach the English language to non-native English speakers while serving as cultural ambassadors for the United States. Fulbright Program Adviser Lisa Grimes notes that the grant recipients may teach students from kindergarten to college level because the students’ age and academic level varies by country.

The scholars offered ETAs and their Fulbright destinations are: Chris Engebretson ’13, Indonesia; Angela Hales ’13, Luxembourg (declined); Libby Hennemuth ’13, Germany; Alex McGrath ’13, Russia; Dana McKelvey ’13, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Kristine Mosuela ’11, Mongolia; Emma Paynter ’13, Germany; Judson Peverall ’13, Germany; Mariel Tavakoli ’13, Czech Republic; and Kyra Zemanick ’13, Norway. 

The six students chosen as alternates were Sophia Berman ’13, Amanda Gibson ‘12, Dylan Murray ’13, Delaney Osborn ’13, Jenna Swalin ’08 and Elizabeth Tompkins ’13.

The large number of students offered grants might be due in part to a new program sponsored by the Roy R. Charles Center. Called Fulbright Fridays, the five-week program was first offered in spring 2012. 

“The idea was that each session would build on the one from the previous week. By the time students had gone through all five, they would have a good draft of their personal statements, a good idea of their project proposal, know which country they were going to and, more importantly, why they were going there,” said Grimes, who also serves at the Charles Center’s associate director.

Beyond the Charles Center programs and peer scholarship advisers, Grimes pointed out that students seeking Fulbright grants receive a great deal of support from the overall William & Mary community. 

“The College’s emphasis on research certainly gives us a higher caliber of full grant applications. The William & Mary faculty’s commitment to this program is also extraordinary in terms of mentoring and encouraging students,” Grimes said. 

According to the Fulbright website, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program – sponsored by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – is the largest U.S. exchange program for students and young professionals seeking international graduate study, advanced research and teaching opportunities worldwide. Around 1,900 grants are annually awarded by the program, which operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. 

At William & Mary, the Fulbright program is administered through the Charles Center by Grimes, with assistance from faculty members and the center’s peer scholarship advisers. The on-campus deadline for 2014-15 Fulbright grant applications is noon Sept. 16, 2013.