University of Rochester

University of Rochester Fulbright Winners Hits 30-Year High

May 18, 2007

Nine University of Rochester students were selected to receive the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship—the highest number of University winners in more than 30 years.

Students from the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering chosen to participate in the 2007-08 Fulbright U.S. Student Program include:

  • Philip Brune (Italy)
  • Alexandra "Sasha" Bilow (France)
  • Jill Thorson (Spain)
  • Colin Brown (who was selected for Austria but withdrew to commence his graduate studies at Harvard this fall)
  • Ayman Bekdash (Jordan)
  • Michael Potere (Malaysia)

Eastman School of Music Fulbright grantees include:

  • Jay Kacherski (Mexico)
  • John Koslovsky (Austria)
  • Adam Peithmann (Germany)

Over the last decade, about three to five students from the College and Eastman have succeeded in the annual Fulbright competition. In total, 17 undergraduate and graduate students in the College have been chosen as Fulbright Scholars since 2004 while seven Eastman students have won the prestigious honor.

The Fulbright Scholarship, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to promote mutual understanding and peace between the United States and other nations through educational and cultural exchange. Fulbright Scholars are given the opportunity to pursue career-launching study, teaching, and research abroad. They design their own programs and arrange institutional affiliations in the host countries. Meanwhile, grants cover expenses such as travel and health insurance and provide a monthly stipend.

Belinda Redden, director of fellowships and assistant director in the College Center for Academic Support, said that success of past Fulbright Scholars is inspiring and encouraging other students to apply for the award. For instance, about 10 years ago, the average number of applicants was fewer than five. That number has nearly quadrupled in the last few years.

"Given that nearly 35 percent of undergraduates will have studied abroad by the time they graduate, I knew that we could significantly increase both the number of students applying for Fulbrights as well as our success rate in the competition," Redden said. "I wanted applying for and winning Fulbrights to become part of University students' academic expectations, and this is indeed what is happening."

Applying for a Fulbright is an extensive process that requires a project proposal, personal essay, a language assessment, and letters of recommendation. There is an interview and assessment at the University level by the Campus Evaluation Committee, chaired in the College by Professor Bill Hauser, who has been on a Fulbright national selection committee for Japan. Finalists are notified by February, but there is no single national notification date; each country decides according to its own time frame, but the awards are usually announced from March to June.