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Facts to know about the Fulbright Program

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Update 4/29/19 5:58 p.m.: This article has been updated. It originally stated that Samantha Davis is a Fulbright scholar when she is, in fact, an Alternate English Teaching Assistant to Croatia. In addition, the article contained incorrect statistics about Fulbright, which have now been updated. 

Last week, the Loyolan published a page with pictures of LMU Fulbright semi-finalists for the Fulbright U.S. Program, and it left many students wondering: what is the  Fulbright Program? 

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a highly competitive international fellowship program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is a program designed for individuals who are either recent graduates, masters and doctoral candidates or young professionals who have up to five years of professional study or experience in the work field. Accepted applicants will go abroad and work on either study/research projects or be a part of the English Teaching Assistant Programs. It offers up to 2,100 teaching, research or study opportunities in over 140 different countries. Its grant duration can last anywhere from eight to 10 months

Fulbright is a great alternative to consider if you are an undergraduate student who is graduating and feel that you’re not 100 percent ready to jump right into graduate or law school at the end of the summer.

“It’s been my plan to attend law school directly after undergrad for a long time,” Samantha Davis, a senior philosophy major, said. “I began wondering if I should take a year off and do something else for a bit [and] the more I looked into it, the more interested I became and decided it would be a great way to spend a year before heading to law school.” Davis is an Alternate English Teaching Assistant to Croatia.

Whether you decide to do research in another country or be a part of the English Teaching Assistant Program, being a Fulbright scholar is an exceptional opportunity. Fulbright allows individuals to immerse themselves into foreign environments and gain worldly experience. “I want to grow as a person and I feel like traveling [in the past] has changed my perspective on what I have here in [the U.S.]. It made me appreciate my life here,” Sami Leung, a senior psychology major and managing editor at the Loyolan, said. 

Additionally, Fulbright not only allows students to gain a different type of experience before jumping back onto the rigorous environment that is graduate school, medical school or law school, but it gives undecided undergraduate students the opportunity to weigh their options.

“I’m a psych major which allows for a very broad spectrum of job opportunities and I’m not really sure what I want to do yet, so I feel like [Fulbright] will also give me the opportunity to examine what I want to do,” Leung said.

Currently, LMU has 12 semi-finalists, all of which are designated to different locations with different occupations. Their fate is still unknown, but is said to be announced by May of this year. Although the 2019-2020 Fulbright applications may be closed, now is a good time to start thinking about applying for next year’s fellowship opportunities. The program may be competitive, but you never know where your fate will lie and you may just end up being on the semi-finalist list for the 2020-2021 Fulbright Student Program.

Additionally, it is always important to remember that very much like the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, there are also other amazing programs such as the Capital Fellows Program, Critical Language Scholarship, Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, Freeman-Asia and so many more that are worth looking into and can be just as great.

For accomplished academics looking for ways to expand their horizons, programs like the Fulbright Program or the other ones mentioned above could be an incredible experience and a useful step in securing a bright future. The pursuit of knowledge isn’t limited only to classrooms and college campuses, and  the Fulbright Program is proof of this fact. 

This is the opinion of Caroline Iglesias, a sophomore communications studies and political science major from Riverside, CA. Tweet comments to @C_Iglesias99 or email comments to aboulas@theloyolan.com.

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