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OHIO named among top Fulbright producers

Five students received the prestigious scholarships for 2013-14

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently ranked Ohio University as one of the "Top Producers of U.S. Fulbright Scholars by Type of Institution in 2013-14" in its November issue. With five Fulbright recipients named from the University this year, OHIO placed on the list with fellow research institutions such as Boston University, Texas Tech University and New York University.

But for Beth Clodfelter, director of the Office of National Competitive Awards at OHIO, that ranking is based on more than just a number. For Clodfelter, it represents bright, dedicated OHIO students and the supportive web of faculty and staff who have helped them achieve an educational milestone.

"Ohio University has a long tradition of producing Fulbright scholarship recipients," Clodfelter said. "The University has a nurturing atmosphere that cultivates Fulbright awardees, thanks largely to the work of our faculty."

President Roderick J. McDavis said the recognition in The Chronicle is a great reflection of the continuing success of Ohio University's mission.

"Ohio University is committed to the development of global citizens, and our students' success in the Fulbright Program is a testament to that commitment," McDavis said. "Our dedicated faculty and staff work tirelessly to broaden our students' horizons through international opportunities. Programs such as the Fulbright Program strengthen Ohio University's student-centered learning community and greatly enhance our world-class educational experience."  

The U.S. Student Fulbright Scholarship Program provides grant funding for undergraduate and graduate students to study abroad to conduct research, teach English as a foreign language or further creative and performing arts training.

The 2013-14 group of Fulbright scholarship recipients from Ohio University consists of four students who will teach English as a foreign language and one who will conduct research. They are:

  • Ashley Enyeart, a double major in English and German, who is teaching English in German secondary schools.

  • Matt Kessler, a master's student who was the first OHIO student to be awarded a Fulbright to Thailand to teach English.

  • Eden Kinkaid, who is conducting research in India about the Indian seed saving movement in an effort to encourage Indian farmers' seed saving practices.

  • Alex Lilly, an English major, who was awarded a Fulbright to teach English in Malaysia.

  • Chelsea Patton, a double major in German and Creative Writing, who is teaching in German secondary schools.

Each student's merits stand on their own, but Clodfelter says help from faculty and staff in the form of mentoring, writing recommendation letters and conducting foreign language evaluations plays a big part.

"Maybe the professor helps them develop a cutting-edge, meaningful research proposal based on some information or understanding they have about current research," Clodfelter said. "Or maybe they were able to help students narrow down which country they should study in and what they would like to get out of the experience."

Faculty members also serve on the Fulbright interview panels. For the next group of Fulbright hopefuls, who have applied for grants to be awarded in 2014-15, that meant 32 interviews – one for each applicant. That number is another to remember, because it's a record for OHIO students applying for the Fulbright Program.

Opportunities across the University are also offering students a leg-up on the competition. Clodfelter says faculty are offering more and more undergraduate and graduate students the chance to participate in research projects, which in turn develops the students into quality researchers.

In the classroom, faculty members are teaching research methodology classes that are preparing students to critically analyze and assess the world around them. Classes offered within the Linguistics department are helping them learn best practices for teaching English as a foreign language.

Outside class time, Clodfelter says programs such as the OPIE Conversation Hour -- which partners American and international students once a week for each to learn more about the other's culture and language -- and FLES -- in which college students teach foreign language in elementary schools -- allow OHIO students to broaden their skill set and prepare them for their Fulbright experience.

The process of finding talented students and then helping them find "a good fit" in the program is a continuous cycle, but Clodfelter says support from OHIO faculty and staff makes for successful applicants, just like the five who helped rank Ohio University on the list among the Top Producers of 2013-14 U.S. Fulbright Scholars.

Information sessions for the next round of Fulbright applications will begin in January. For more about Ohio University's participation in the U.S. Student Fulbright Scholarship Program, visit http://www.ohio.edu/international/ohio-university-fulbright-programs.cfm.