Alumni Continue Fulbright Award Success
Published on May 9, 2014
8 in 2 Years Puts Susquehanna in Top 5 Percent Nationally
Five members of the Susquehanna University community have been honored with Fulbright scholarships for 2014-15. Three of this year’s winners are from the recently graduated Class of 2014—Kirstin Waldkoenig, Nicole Powers and Andrew Budsock—while Ariana Stowe and Jackie Newell are members of the Class of 2013. This brings Susquehanna’s total of Fulbright award winners to eight in the past two years, a distinction which ranks the university among the top liberal arts colleges for Fulbright placement rate in Pennsylvania and in the top five percent of all schools nationally.
Waldkoenig and Budsock were both placed and accepted by Germany, although Budsock turned down the Fulbright award in order to accept a Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) commission. Stowe will serve her Fulbright award in Brazil, Newell will spend her Fulbright in Argentina, and Powers will be travelling to France after receiving a Teaching Assistant Program in France (TAPIF) award, which counts as a partial Fulbright award. The five join a group of three alumni from Susquehanna—Holly Belkot, Bridget Burns and Carla Hinson— who won Fulbright awards in 2013.
“Having these students win these awards is tremendously prestigious for Susquehanna,” said Cymone Fourshey, an associate professor of history and the faculty coordinator for post graduate advising. Susquehanna has a dedicated program in place to identify and nurture potential applicants and Fourshey oversees the application process for all postgraduate awards. She is also a Fulbright alumna after winning an award to Tanzania.
“The awarding agencies are looking for someone who is curious, adventurous to some extent and is open to challenge. All of these students have worked very hard on their proposals and when they do these applications they think about the things they really enjoy. As they take the time to go through the proposal, they have to ask very hard questions of themselves.”
For Waldkoenig, the Fulbright award is a dream come true. She had previously lived in Berlin as part of Susquehanna’s Global Opportunities (GO) program.
“After an experience like this I might be able to open more options,” said Waldkoenig, a creative writing and philosophy major from Gettysburg, who turned down a fully-funded assistantship to the University of Montana Master of Fine Arts in creative writing in order to accept the Fulbright. She has already had personal essays published in Catfish Creek literary journal and Essay, Susquehanna University’s student-run creative nonfiction magazine.
“I’ll be meshing two different perspectives in Germany,” Waldkoenig said. “Being here has really deepened what I knew about myself and being able to collaborate in two departments with lots of different faculty I feel close to—I would posit that as my number one thank you to Susquehanna.”
Stowe, an English major and former varsity women’s basketball player at Susquehanna, is looking forward to expanding on some of the skills she developed while on her GO trip to Costa Rica. She will experience the buildup for two world-class sporting events coming to the South American country—the World Cup this summer and the Summer Olympics in 2016. She works as a legal assistant at Whiteford, Taylor and Preston LLC and has already begun learning Portuguese.
“When I did my GO program, I taught basketball to kids at sports camps,” Stowe said. “It was my introduction into language barrier situations, which generally speak to dealing with people in difficult situations and it’s been really helpful to have that background. I see the Fulbright as being really beneficial to learning how other countries do things.”
Newell double-majored in international studies and Spanish at Susquehanna. She became interested in the Fulbright program when she researched four different Latin American countries to see if the gender of the president affected laws in those countries related to women. The momentum of her research led to her desire to take a more active interest in service abroad after taking her Global Opportunities (GO) trip to Alicante, Spain, in the fall of her junior year.
“I loved Spain, but Argentina feels more raw,” she said. “They have a history of cowboys and yet they have the Paris of South America with Buenos Aires. You can see development going on there and that’s exciting for me.”
She’ll be working with Girl Guides groups (the international equivalent of the Girl Scouts). She recognizes the confidence-building and leadership skills girls acquire when belonging to the organization and wants to help girls, especially those in their preteen years, which is when most girls drop out, gain those skills in a still developing country. “I’m excited for the Fulbright because I’m going abroad to make a difference,” she said.
Powers, who did her GO trip to Strasbourg, France, passed the initial round of the Fulbright approval process, but was instead recommended for a TAPIF award. She’ll be spending 12 to 15 hours a week in classrooms helping students with the English-language conversation skills in Poitiers, a city an hour and a half west of Paris. A double major in creative writing and French, she is going to use this year to see the world, sharpen her French-language skills and take a breath after graduating from Susquehanna to contemplate graduate school.
“I look at this as an experience to aid in what I know and what I’ve done. It can only help in giving me more things to think about, people to see, places to go,” Powers said. “I wanted to do something like this and get real-life experience before jumping back into school. I think I’ll have more energy when I go back.”
Budsock, a double major in ecology and German, had to choose between a wealth of options—the Fulbright award, CBYX and attending Columbia University for graduate school. Budsock was able to defer his admission to Columbia, and while he was honored by the Fulbright award he could not pass up an opportunity to further his career by working in a laboratory at Technische Universität München (TUM) with a program specializing in forest management.
“It feels good to get the validation after lots of hard work. The application process is riveting and definitely requires a lot of work,” Budsock said of the Fulbright, but added, “I’m a science major so if I had the opportunity to get an internship and work in a lab, I think I have do that over the Fulbright.”
The Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. It was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program awards approximately 7,500 new grants annually and currently operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.