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ASU now among top 3 research universities for Fulbright awards

October 30, 2013

ASU tied with Princeton, Rutgers in number of Fulbrights

Arizona State University has climbed higher among the top producers of students who win Fulbright awards to study and teach abroad, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. The university now ranks third in the nation for research institutions, tied with Princeton and Rutgers. 

A record 26 ASU students received Fulbright awards last spring, and are currently representing the school in 19 different countries. 

Especially notable is that ASU has the highest winning percentage of almost any school in the nation, with 43 percent of the university’s 60 applicants achieving success. Harvard, at the top of the list, submitted 134 applications to win 39 awards, less than a 30 percent success rate. 

Coming in second was the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, which put forth 151 applicants to win 32.

ASU bested Northwestern, Columbia, Yale, University of Texas at Austin and Cornell in the top 10, all of which achieved a 19 to 31 percent success rate.

“ASU is committed to supporting student success and the highest levels of discovery and global engagement,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Our ascension to become a top three producer of Fulbright recipients reflects the collective dedication of the ASU community to those ideals, as well as the talent, creativity and competitiveness of our students.”

ASU students are especially successful at winning these overseas study grants, partly because of ASU’s emphasis on global studies and foreign languages, and also because of the strong support of faculty mentors. Students typically get started on their applications early and take advantage of the expertise and generosity of faculty in formulating their projects.

“Fulbright Fellowships are a huge honor to win in national competition," says Mark Jacobs, dean of Barrett, the Honors College, "and give the students a chance to teach, study and do scholarly work in a foreign country. It is a testament to the quality of ASU students that their success rate is so high.”

ASU’s Office of National Scholarship Advisement works with students across all four campuses, and not only Honors College students, helping them prepare to compete for national and international awards of merit. 

Fourteen of ASU’s student Fulbright winners are teaching English in foreign countries, while the others are working on sophisticated research projects. Each award winner developed a proposal and applied for a specific country.

Samantha DePalo, who graduated last spring in Spanish linguistics and English literature, is currently teaching English language and literature to university students in the city of Puebla, Mexico, southeast of Mexico City. She says receiving a Fulbright award has been life-changing.

“I have two classes of approximately 30 students who surprise me every day with their eagerness to exchange meaningful cultural information and experiences with me,” she says. “Before I moved to Mexico I felt fixed in my academic and professional goals, but an entirely new world of experiences and opportunities has opened up to me here.

“I have encountered people and issues I never would have expected, and my scope of interest has greatly increased. For example, I have begun to study Nahuatl, the language of the Aztec people, and I frequently visit small indigenous communities and bilingual schools all over Mexico. These experiences will certainly contribute to any academic and professional efforts I undertake in the future.”

The Fulbright Program is the premier fellowship program of the U.S. State Department. Its aim is to increase mutual understanding while helping develop creative responses to problems as serious as climate change and pandemics.

Among other recent ASU graduates currently studying and teaching abroad on Fulbrights is Teagan Adamson, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biomedical engineering and is doing research at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences (IBS) at Taiwan’s Academia Sinica, pursuing her goal to aid in the battle against cancer.

Jaleila (Jill) Brumand, who earned her bachelor’s in sustainability and geography, is studying for a master's degree in energy and the environment at Lancaster University. She is comparing U.S. and U.K. energy politics, infrastructure and vulnerability to disaster, which may impact low-carbon energy policy and decision-making in the United States.

Tristan Fehr is doing research on adult neurogenesis at the Cajal Institute in Madrid, Spain; Robin Hytowitz is studying the effects of electric vehicles and renewable generation resources on Denmark’s electric power grid; and Christopher Kuzdas is studying sustainable development and water governance in Costa Rica. 

More than 1,800 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study were offered Fulbright grants to study, teach English and conduct research in over 140 countries throughout the world this fall.