What makes a Fulbright scholar?


A steady stream of Fulbrights (14 in the last three years) and the fact that their university sits atop the list of most Fulbrights granted to a master's granting university (two of the last three years) is a boost to the hopes of Fairfield University students as they ready their Fulbright applications for the Oct. 19th deadline.

What sets apart this campus in a small southwestern Connecticut community that seems so distant from the foreign lands that call to these Fulbright hopefuls? Dr. Miriam Gogol, director for the Fulbright Program at Fairfield says, "First you need students who are intellectually adventurous, who have a passion for something, who really have that intellectual drive."

Then her job is to find them. For that, she says, she has a lot of help. "The Honors Program, the Dean's List Dinner, the Multicultural Program, " are just some of the areas where faculty and others are looking to spot a student who might benefit from the nearly year-long Fulbright application process. "Most students do not begin their college career saying, 'I want to be a Fulbright scholar.' It's something they need to be educated about," she says.

Students can also count on personal advising and mentoring in their quest. Many of Fairfield's faculty have either done research in other countries or are originally from another country.

She also points out that language can be a real barrier to winning a Fulbright. She credits Fairfield's ever expanding Study Abroad Program, accompanied by a strong Modern Languages Department that offers Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Italian and French, with giving students the experience and skills they need to survive as a Fulbright Scholar.

Fairfield is proud of its Fulbright students and those who apply can expect support in their quest. "Our students receive close personal advising and mentoring," Dr. Gogol says, "We have a great infrastructure. They are not alone."

The results speak for themselves. Among the five Fulbright students for this year is Aamina Awan who is one of only two selected for Bahrain, the other being a graduate student. Aamina is conducting independent research at the University of Bahrain on public policies that encourage more women to join the workforce.

The other Fulbright students are Evan Berard who will study the societal structure of Venezuela; Elizabeth Blake, who will study the implications of the beefed-up border patrol policy at the Canadian-U.S. border; Kate Cota, who will research literature in the Republic of Georgia; and James Costa, who will be a teaching assistant in Italy.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 8, 2007