University of Nebraska celebrates record 11 Fulbright Scholars in 2011
Chris Danford University of Nebraska celebrates record 11 Fulbright Scholars in 2011
The University of Nebraska is home to a record 11 Fulbright Scholarship winners in 2011 – an especially significant accomplishment considering applications for the prestigious award were up more than 40 percent nationally this year.

Of NU’s 11 academically diverse winners, nine were from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (an individual record for that campus), one was from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and one was from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The students will travel to nine different countries – including Brazil, Turkey, Germany and South Korea – to conduct research in critical fields such as public health, political science and biomechanics and serve in other scholarly capacities in the coming year.

Tom Farrell, vice provost for global engagement, said NU students’ success is a result of a concerted university-wide effort to draw more attention to the awards and encourage more outstanding students to apply. Under Farrell’s leadership, the university has brought Fulbright officials from around the world – including those from the U.S. Department of State, the Institute of International Education and the Council for International Exchange of Scholars – to NU campuses so students could have important opportunities to network, learn about different countries and receive valuable advice on the Fulbright program and application process. The university also has established counseling sessions to help students plan and refine their Fulbright proposals, and enhanced campus and faculty advising services so students are more educated about how to compete in certain countries.

“Growing the number of Fulbright winners is prestigious internationally for the University of Nebraska,” Farrell said. “It says to audiences in the U.S. and abroad that we can compete on a global stage in a very strong way.”

The Fulbright Scholarship – considered the flagship award for international education sponsored by the U.S. government – is highly prestigious and competitive. It was established in 1946 and is funded by the U.S. Department of State with a mission of fostering understanding between the United States and other countries.

Fulbright awards help students build their careers and engage internationally, which is key to NU’s mission, Farrell said. The awards also give students a chance to discover new areas of interest, develop their skills, and engage with experts overseas – all of which will help them succeed in graduate school and later on in their careers. Ultimately, these students are positioned to contribute greatly to economic and research success both in Nebraska and internationally, Farrell said.

Farrell added, “By advising students to consider studying areas of focus that are important to the University and to Nebraska – areas such as energy, food security, education, public health, transportation, engineering, global services, technology and others – and to focus on countries like Brazil where we want to build partnerships, we can build appreciation and credibility for the University of Nebraska around the world.”

Farrell said Fulbright applications from American college graduates, graduate students and young artists totaled 9,398 for 2010-11 – almost 3,000 more than the previous year, an increase of more than 40 percent. About 1,700 Fulbright Scholarships will be awarded to U.S. students this year, a figure which has held steady for the past several years.

University of Nebraska winners are:

Jennifer Birdsall, a UNL graduate student who teaches K-5 students with behavioral disorders for Lincoln Public Schools. Birdsall will use her Fulbright to teach English in Macedonia.

Alyx Dodds Garner, who graduated from UNL in May with majors in German and economics. Garner will travel to Germany to teach English at a middle school and lead an economics club.

Jenna Gibson, who graduated from UNL in May with majors in news-editorial journalism, French and international studies and a minor in Japanese. Gibson will travel to South Korea to work as an English teaching assistant and write for an English-language newspaper.

Laura Roost, a UNL political science doctoral candidate. Roost will use her Fulbright to travel to Rwanda to research the role of women’s non-governmental organizations in the country’s post-genocide recovery.

Carrie Walker, a UNL English doctoral candidate. Walker will travel to Jamaica to research how Jamaican women address the status of women through letter-writing since Independence in 1962.

Alexandria Knipe, a UNL master of fine arts student with an emphasis in ceramics. Knipe will travel to Turkey to conduct research on Islamic pots and teach ceramics at a university.

Sarah Lee, who graduated from UNL in May with majors in Spanish and chemistry and a minor in mathematics. Lee will travel to South Korea to serve as an English teaching assistant.

Cori Curtis, who graduated from UNL in May with majors in international studies and political science and minors in communication studies and human rights and humanitarian affairs. Curtis will use his Fulbright to serve as an English teaching assistant in Turkey.

Anita Middleton, who graduated from UNL in December 2010 with a major in Russian and minors in Czech and international studies. Middleton will travel to Russia to be an English teaching assistant and volunteer in a child care center or an orphanage.

Neil Huben, a May graduate of UNO. Huben will travel to Greece to conduct research on the effects of visual and auditory stimulation on postural sway and balance.

Chris Danford, a rising fourth-year medical student at UNMC. Danford will travel to Brazil to explore the barriers to health care that exist in that country.

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