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With 13 scholars, William & Mary remains a top Fulbright producer

  • Fulbright Cohort:
    Fulbright Cohort:  Several of William & Mary’s 2015-16 Fulbright grant recipients pose at the Sunken Garden steps. Front row, left to right: Noah Baker, Elena van den Berg, Elisabeth Bloxam; middle row: Rebecca Fulp-Eickstaedt, Lisa Laird, Francine Cilke, Alexandra Hartley; back row: Kelsey Renoll, Danielle Tassara, Bradley Spence Jones.  Photo by Eliot Dudik
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William & Mary has once again been named a top producer of Fulbright U.S. student grant recipients, the Chronicle of Higher Education announced today in its annual list of leading Fulbright-producing institutions.

Thirteen recent graduates of William & Mary accepted Fulbright grants to go abroad during the 2015-16 academic year. That total earned the university the 23rd spot on the Chronicle’s list of top-producing research universities, tied with the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Cornell University.

“We are thrilled to be have another cohort of exceptional Fulbright Scholars,” said Lisa Grimes, Fulbright program adviser and associate director of the Roy R. Charles Center. “It is always a pleasure to work with these talented and dedicated students.”

The size of William & Mary’s latest group of Fulbright scholars is similar to recent years, in which the university produced between nine and 14 Fulbright recipients. According to the Chronicle, 49 William & Mary alumni applied for Fulbrights last year.

The recipients will use the grants to travel to countries around the world, teaching, studying and conducting research in a variety of fields.

Among the grantees is Elizabeth Pelletier ’14, who has received an academic grant to Canada. She is spending the year in Ontario at the University of Toronto’s political science department conducting research on school funding and equity in Canada and the United States.

“I'm excited to have the chance to research and learn for a year with more freedom and flexibility than I was able to have with a full schedule of classes at William & Mary,” Pelletier said. “I’m also really enjoying exploring Toronto — it’s a wonderful city with a lot to offer, and I’m living right in the middle of the downtown, which is very exciting since I’ve never lived in a major metropolis before!”

Among her most exciting experiences has been discovering the opinions our neighbors to the north have about American politics.

“I was here in Toronto for the Canadian federal elections in October, and I’m currently hearing a lot of Canadian perspectives on the U.S. presidential primaries, which has been really interesting,” she said.

Across the world in India, Spence Jones ’15 is researching LGBT jurisprudence by identifying various lacunae in the law that prevent LGBT individuals from receiving legal protections. Collaborating with the Human Rights Law Network on his Fulbright-Nehru U.S. Student Research Scholarship to India, Jones’s goal is to precipitate litigation using rights-based frameworks with the hope of sensitizing courts to the legitimacy of issues sexual and gender minorities face.

“Beyond involving myself in a fascinating body of work, coming to India I was most excited to tackle the multiplicity of challenges — albeit somewhat ungracefully at points — that arise when assimilating to a culture so different from my own,” Jones said. “What I have come to learn, however, is that our shared human experience creates amazing opportunities to connect across cultural boundaries in ways unbeknownst to me before the start of my Fulbright grant.”

Even as the 2015-16 grantees have settled into their year as Fulbright scholars, the scholarship experts at the Charles Center are hard at work helping potential future grantees prepare their applications.

“The Peer Scholarship Advisors and I are already working with candidates for the fall 2016 deadline,” Grimes said.

“Students interested in applying should stop by the PSA office in the Charles Center to talk over their ideas and watch for announcements of special Fulbright events throughout this semester,” she added.

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.