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Cronkite Fulbright Scholars take expertise abroad

July 16, 2008

Two recent graduates of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication have been named 2008 Fulbright Scholars.

Ian Lee and Emily Falkner are among 12 Arizona State University graduates who won the prestigious scholarships this year. ASU has the fourth highest acceptance rate among public universities and ranks in the top 20 universities nationally in the number of students accepted to the Fulbright Program.

The program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is the largest U.S. international exchange program, sending U.S. students, teachers, professionals and scholars to study, teach, lecture and conduct research in more than 155 countries.

“To have two students from the Cronkite School selected for the Fulbright in a single year is a real accomplishment, both for the students and the faculty who helped to prepare them,” says Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. The last time a Cronkite student was selected for a Fulbright was in 1998.

Lee, 24, of Lander, Wyo., received his bachelor’s degree in journalism in December, along with certificates in Islamic Studies and Arabic. He will spend a year at American University in Cairo, Egypt, studying the reporting differences between newspapers written in English and those written in Arabic. He also will monitor Arab satellite networks for the Adham Center for Electronic Journalism and do some freelance stories for American media outlets.

After his Fulbright year, Lee said he plans to continue pursuing journalism abroad. “I want to go to conflict zones and report from there,” he says. “My mom is a little nervous.”

While a student, Lee reported for Cronkite NewsWatch, the school’s award-winning newscast and was recognized as being part of the nation’s Best News Team for 2007-2008 by the Broadcast Education Association.

He spent part of this summer traveling in Egypt and Qatar as part of a select group of students awarded a Carnegie Knight Middle East Journalism Scholarship. He also has traveled and studied in Jordan, Syria, Israel and Palestine.

“Ian distinguished himself as a young journalist with a keen interest in and understanding of issues facing the Middle East,” says Mark Lodato, news director and professor of practice at the Cronkite School. “The Fulbright is a wonderful acknowledgement of his hard work and dedication and the perfect opportunity for him to continue his studies in a part of the world that is ever-changing.”

Falkner, 28, of Tempe, Ariz., received her Master of Mass Communication degree from the Cronkite School in May. Her award will take her to the Slovak Republic for nine months, where she will be a teaching assistant at the University of Constantine the Philosopher. She will help students with their English composition skills and possibly assist with an American studies course.

She also plans to write a blog about what the country is like from the perspective of an American living there.

Falkner, who received her undergraduate degree in literary and cultural studies at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, says she has always been interested in Eastern Europe.

“It’s an area with intense traditions that is encountering a lot of changes,” Falkner says. “Slovakia is a country that remains very religious, while the rest of Europe has become more secular. I’m interested in the sociology behind that.”

As a student at ASU, Falkner volunteered tutoring a family from Burundi through the International Rescue Committee in Phoenix. She says she hopes to work for the U.S. Foreign Service after her Fulbright year.