Fairfield University once again tops in its class in Fulbrights awarded


The Chronicle of Higher Education is announcing this week that Fairfield University placed first in the number of Fulbrights its students received among the 574 universities in the country that are ranked as Master's Degree institutions in the Carnegie classification. This is the third time in four years that the Jesuit university has garnered this honor and the first time it shares the top honor with another university - the University of Portland in Oregon.

The results speak for themselves. Among the five Fulbright students for this year is Aamina Awan, 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.

Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., president of Fairfield University, said he is particularly pleased with the success of the Fulbright program on campus, because, "It is so representative of what we want our students to gain through the core curriculum and through the living and learning environment we foster - that they need to be prepared to live in a diverse world, bringing with them an empathy and curiosity for other peoples and cultures, and a desire to serve."

There was a lot of excitement on the Fairfield campus when the first student Fulbright was received in 1993. Now, 14 years later, the school can boast an additional 43 Fulbrights. 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."

Her job is to find them. "Most students," she says, "do not begin their college career saying, 'I want to be a Fulbright scholar.' It's something they need to be educated about." Once their interest is piqued, students can count on personal advising and mentoring in their quest. Many of Fairfield's faculty, who have either done research in other countries or are originally from another country, are happy to provide close personal advising and mentoring.

And while language can be a real barrier to winning a Fulbright, Fairfield's ever expanding Study Abroad Program, accompanied by a strong Modern Languages Department that offers Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Italian and French, help students gain the experience and skills they need to survive and succeed in a foreign country.

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

Posted on October 23, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 89