By Breanne Smith
Editor's note: Ohio University's success rate for 2008-09 Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards was 54.5 percent because one student declined her award because of another opportunity. Updated information appears here.
Fifty-nine percent of the 22 Ohio University students who applied for Fulbrights this year have landed awards, an unprecedented success rate for the university. The number of awards for 2008-09 now stands at 13, tying a university record set in 2006, and one student is still awaiting word on his application.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, offers students and recent graduates the opportunity to undertake research, pursue projects in the creative and performing arts or teach English as a foreign language.
"Our students' success in this really competitive and well-respected national awards program demonstrates our strengths in a variety of academic fields," said Beth Clodfelter, the university's director of U.S. Fulbright programs and liaison for international partnerships. She noted that the 13 students represent the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Communication, Education, Engineering and Fine Arts, and the Center for International Studies.
"The competitive odds were higher this year than they've ever been," Clodfelter said. "The number of applications submitted nationally went up by 603, or 10 percent, so we might have expected our students to receive fewer awards because the competition got even stiffer. Instead, they've done phenomenally well."
Eight of the students have earned Fulbright study and research awards, while five earned English teaching assistantships.
Here's a look at the winners of study and research awards:
Jennifer Goodlander is a doctoral student in interdisciplinary arts, focusing primarily on theater with a secondary focus on performance studies and a graduate certificate in women's studies. She will conduct her Fulbright research in Bali, Indonesia, on the expanding role of women in traditional Balinese performing arts. She would like to eventually become a professor of performing arts.
Karen Greiner, a doctoral student in communication studies, is Ohio University's first awardee to travel to Colombia, where she will continue her research on creative communication for social change. She hopes to eventually have her dissertation published and to become a professor of communication.
Dan Leach, a senior majoring in electrical engineering with minors in Japanese and mathematics, will travel to Japan to research brain-computer interfacing and work on the development of lifelike prostheses to benefit individuals with disabilities. Leach is the first Ohio University engineering student to win a Fulbright. After returning to the States, he plans to obtain his master's in engineering and eventually work to bring together international engineering teams from America and Japan for humanitarian projects, such as those affecting health care or environmental issues.
Daniel McBrayer, a graduate student in International Development Studies, will be Ohio University's first Fulbright awardee to travel to the country of Georgia, where he will research youth contributions to conflict transformation. McBrayer plans to return to the United States to work in that field for government agencies and obtain his doctorate in anthropology. This will be McBrayer's second long-term experience in Georgia, where he spent time with the Peace Corps. That actually made it more difficult to win a Fulbright to that country, Clodfelter said, since Fulbright officials prefer to send students to destinations where they've not had extensive previous experiences.
Dan Reimold, named the outstanding doctoral student in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism for 2008, will travel to Singapore to conduct research on student media. Reimold has had an interest in student media since serving as editor for The Grizzly, the student-run newspaper at Ursinus College, where he obtained his bachelor's degree.
Three awardees will travel to Germany under Fulbright research grants. Stephanie Siek, Kim Vandegrift and Krista McCallum Beatty join four students who earned Fulbright teaching assistantships to Germany for 2008-09. This brings the number of awardees traveling to Germany to seven, a new record for the university, which has never had more than three in a given year.
"Faculty from across campus support our student applicants by writing letters of recommendation, serving on interview panels and administering foreign language evaluations," Clodfelter said. "The contributions of faculty members in German within the Department of Modern Languages are particularly noteworthy this year. Every single faculty member did something; it seemed like a real departmental effort."
Siek earned her bachelor's in journalism with a certificate in international studies in 2003 and has worked as a reporter for The Boston Globe for more than three years, covering the western Boston suburbs. With her Fulbright, she will travel to Frankfurt, Germany, as a guest journalist conducting research for future freelance articles. Her focus is on German identity in an increasingly multicultural society.
Vandegrift, who earned her bachelor's degrees in fine arts and German this winter, turned down a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (German Academic Exchange Service) award to accept a Fulbright to Germany, where she will conduct research focusing on the work of modern German music therapists as well as the 19th-century concept of Gemut, which she sees as a precursor to modern music therapy.
McCallum Beatty, a doctoral student in higher education administration and interim director in International Student and Faculty Services, will travel to the University of Kassel in Germany to work on her doctoral dissertation, which focuses on student experiences in English-language-taught degree programs in Germany.
Ohio University had 17 Fulbright finalists this year, a new record for the institution. Last year, Ohio University ranked in the top 30 intensive-extensive doctoral research universities for the number of Fulbright awards earned by students.
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Updated Oct. 28, 2008, to provide a link to updated Ohio University Fulbright ranking information.