Oberlin continues to be a top producer of Fulbright scholarships and research grants among liberal arts colleges, sending graduates all over the world to do research and teach English.
Sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright program aims to build bridges between American students and scholars from other nations. The largest international exchange program in the United States, the Fulbright program awards about 1,700 fellows each year, providing them with opportunities to engage in study, independent learning, research, or teaching assistantships in one of more than 135 countries worldwide. Participants are selected on the basis of academic merit and leadership potential, as well as their ability to serve as cultural ambassadors for the United States in their host country.
The college has seen an uptick in Fulbright recipients in the last five years, says Nick Petzak, Oberlin’s fellowship advisor. He calls the application process “hyper competitive” for good reason: This year, the Fulbright foundation received 10,000 nominations for 1,700 slots nationwide.
Oberlin students are favorable candidates for several reasons. Students here are involved in many forms of teaching and tutoring, both on campus and in the community, and a significant number of Oberlin students are interested in pursuing education as a career. Oberlin also boasts particular strength in its foreign language programs. Yet another factor is the amount and quality of study abroad experiences that students engage in throughout all four years.
Oberlin’s Fulbright candidates come from an array of majors and programs of study in the college and conservatory, with more science students entering the program in the last few years.
Choosing to apply for a Fulbright was “the best decision I’ve made made in the last year,” says Leah Goldman ‘13, who is completing an English Teaching Assistantship in Norway.
“The application was a crossroads for me—without a linguistic, cultural, or familial attachment to any country, the entire world was open,” says Goldman. “I first investigated Norway on a whim, envisioning it as an almost magical land that was the complete opposite of the United States. Teaching for a year in Norway—the home of trolls, Vikings, equality, and social welfare—seemed like a great opportunity to expand my personal and professional horizons. As I wrote in my application back in September 2013, ‘My experience in Norway will be essential preparation for my future work in American education policy. I want to be at the table when education policy is created in the United States, sharing successes, challenges, and lessons learned from my time in Norway.’ After a year working with students ranging from age 6 to graduate students, I can attest to the validity of my premonition.”
When she returns to the United States, Goldman, who is originally from Baltimore, Maryland, plans to teach elementary school in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The following are this year’s Fulbright recipients.
Anna Aronowitz '14 will teach English in Indonesia.
Lily Bryant '14 will teach English in Colombia.
Dessane Cassell '14 will teach English in South Africa.
Ryan Dearon will study acting at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.
Sarah Feigelson '14 will teach English in Italy.
Michael Fiorillo '14 will teach English in Brazil.
Matthew Kendrick '14 will teach English in South Korea.
Amelea Kim '12 will teach English in South Korea.
Nicholas Kuipers '14 will teach English in Indonesia.
Brenna Larson '14 will study and conduct art history research in Italy.
Laura Li '14 will teach English in Brazil.
Ian Zimmermann '14 will teach English in Brazil.