March 02, 2022

Two Susquehanna University students have been selected as semifinalists in the highly competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition.

Each year, the Fulbright Commission receives approximately 10,000 applications and presents an average of 2,000 awards for students to conduct research, study, or teach abroad in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Susquehanna’s semifinalists are:

  • Emma Beiter ’22, a psychology and Spanish double major from Danville, Pennsylvania, who is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Peru;
  • Olivia McGaw ’22, a Spanish studies - education K-12 major from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, who is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Spain.

“I believe a key to creating understanding between diverse groups of people is developing an understanding of other cultures and languages,” Beiter said. “As someone with an interest in law enforcement, gaining that understanding and sharing it with the people I work with could be a great stride in improving how I and fellow members of law enforcement interact and communicate with people of different languages and cultures.”

McGaw, who received support throughout the application process from education and Spanish faculty, as well as SU’s Career Development Center, is pursuing the Fulbright with hopes of building upon her recent study abroad experience in Spain. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language as preparation for a career working in migrant education.

“I loved my study abroad experience in Spain, and I think a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Fellowship will help strengthen my teaching and language skills,” McGaw said. “It would be an amazing opportunity to teach English in another country and learn from Spanish-speaking teachers.”

Faculty Support Key to Success

Beiter, who studied abroad in Spain on a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, plans to pursue a career in state or federal law enforcement, ideally in geographic areas or fields that deal with high demographics of native Spanish speakers. She credits Greg Severyn, assistant professor of Spanish studies, with inspiring her to apply for the Fulbright.

“Dr. Severyn was the first Spanish professor I had when I came to Susquehanna four years ago, and he was the person who encouraged me to take Spanish as a major and continue learning the language and culture beyond his classroom,” she said. “He was the first person I asked for a letter of recommendation because I knew that there was no one else whose opinion mattered more to me; if he thought I could do it, I knew I could.”

Karol Weaver, professor of history, leads Susquehanna’s program dedicated to nurturing potential scholarship applicants and supporting them through the application process.

“Achieving Fulbright semifinalist status is a tremendous accomplishment,” Weaver said. “The Fulbright competition is highly selective, and I know that with their Susquehanna background, these students are well-positioned to compete among the nation’s top student-scholars.”

After being chosen as semifinalists by Fulbright U.S. National Screening Committees, applications are passed to the host countries for final selection. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.