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ASU pumps out study-abroad scholarship winners

December 06, 2006

ASU has been named a top producer of Fulbright awards for students, in the Chronicle of Higher Education. This is the third year ASU has ranked in the top 20 schools nationally. The university also leads the nation in another competitive study-abroad award.

Noah Theriault, a May 2006 graduate in anthropology, is one of 22 ASU scholars studying internationally. Theriault is in the Philippines, studying a coastal resource management project that balances conservation with human livelihood.

ASU's outstanding language programs and faculty mentors have helped a record number of students win Fulbrights and National Security Education (NSEP) awards to study overseas. Twenty-two student scholars are studying in 17 different countries during the 2006-2007 school year on these prestigious scholarships.

Twelve students, many of them in graduate programs, received Fulbright awards. These students, who applied for a particular country and are working with specialists on a chosen course of study, are in Indonesia, Dominica, the Netherlands, Australia, the Philippines, Mauritius, Uruguay, Spain and Chile.

Ten undergraduates won NSEP awards to study in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe, making ASU the national leader in these awards for the third year in a row. The next-closest schools were the University of Chicago, George Washington University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, each with four awards.

The NSEP and Fulbright provide full funding for travel, living and academic expenses for an academic year. Both programs emphasize “critical languages” in an effort to promote better understanding of other cultures.

“I think one reason we have pulled so far ahead of the pack is that we have very strong language programs at ASU,” says Janet Burke, associate dean for national scholarships at Barrett, the Honors College. “The Asian, Russian and Arabic language programs and the Critical Languages Institute at ASU have all provided students who have excellent language skills. This is a must-have for NSEP, particularly in those critical areas for U.S. national security.”

Burke, who works with students to hone their applications, says ASU faculty members also are very helpful to the students in formulating their plans of study. They often assist applicants in establishing the necessary contacts overseas. The increased emphasis the university is placing on global studies also piques students' interest.

This year, President George W. Bush announced plans to increase the number of Americans who can speak Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Hindi, Farsi and Turkish, among other languages. The project is a joint effort of the State Department, the Department of Education and the Department of Defense.

“This opens doors to some excellent government career paths for those students who are interested,” Burke says. “We've also seen that more students are applying because success breeds interest. ASU students who have heard about the adventures of their peers in exotic areas of the world want to try to win such scholarships, too.”