Future full of Fulbrights

Drake supports student and faculty applications for the prestigious program abroad

More than 96 percent of Drake students find work or enroll in grad school within six months of graduation — a statistic that is encouraging in and of itself.

But one notable facet of that job placement rate lies with students who land prestigious opportunities abroad. In recent years, an extraordinary number of Drake’s graduates have received awards from the renowned Fulbright program to teach or conduct research in other countries — a trend mirrored by Drake professors.

Since 2004 15 Drake students have earned Fulbrights, with at least one — and as many as three — gaining this distinction each year. Drake was the No. 2 producer of student Fulbrights among U.S. master’s institutions in 2009-10, and the No. 3 producer among the same group in 2006-07.

Drake also has had at least one faculty member receive a Fulbright award every year since 2007. A concerted effort is underway to support both students and faculty in their Fulbright applications to teach, perform research and complete service projects in one of 155 participating countries.

Springboard for Careers

Fulbright recipients gain an exceptional opportunity to work and study abroad. Drake’s student recipients have received scholarships to Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong, Morocco, Jordan, Thailand, Mexico and The Philippines.

The program is a tried and true springboard for careers in international relations, government work, corporate work abroad and other related fields, as well as a selling point on graduate applications. Upon completion of their Fulbrights, Drake alumni have gone on to careers with the U.S. State Department, Kraft Foods and the Pew Center, and have entered highly prestigious graduate schools in the United States and abroad.

Applications to the program have increased in recent years, thanks in large part to the recruitment and mentorship efforts of Eleanor Zeff, associate professor of politics and international relations. Since she became Drake’s adviser for prospective Fulbright scholars in 2003 applications have increased from less than a handful to an average of 10 per year. This fall, 13 students are preparing applications.

“I work closely with each student,” says Zeff. “I commonly spend five or 10 hours helping each applicant prepare an application. Applicants also work closely with a committee of faculty members.

“The application process is extremely valuable, even for students who don’t receive the grant. It helps graduating seniors to develop their writing skills. But more than that, it requires them to reflect on their Drake education and envision how they will apply that education to real, practical projects and careers.”

Enhancing the Classroom

The University’s Strategic Internationalization Plan, which aims to make the most of international opportunities at Drake, has a stated goal of enhancing faculty Fulbright opportunities.

Those opportunities abroad often translate into valuable insight for the classroom, said Vice Provost for International Programs Christa Olson, who studied internationalization efforts at Canadian and Mexican universities through a Fulbright in 2009.

“Support for Fulbrights is one of several strategies to enhance international knowledge and experience that our faculty can bring back into the classroom and the community,” Olson says. “The world is constantly changing, and the knowledge areas that are most timely and relevant for our students is constantly shifting – Fulbrights offer a rich variety of opportunities around the world that help us stay on top of world affairs.”


Student Fulbright recipients 2004-Present:
2011–2012 Rachel Shulruf Brazil, English teaching award
Ellen Bastian Russia, research award
2010-2011 Marina Yakhnis Ukraine, research award
2009–2010 Karli Jo Storm Azerbaijian, English teaching award
Alexa Horwart Indonesia, English teaching award
Amy Benes South Korea, English teaching award
2008–2009 Linda Yang Hong Kong, English teaching award
Kathryn Seckman Morocco, research award
2007–2008 Lauren Smith South Korea, English teaching award
2006–2007 Brittany Buchholtz Jordan, women’s issues award
Jessica Ernst Thailand, English teaching award
Linda Knoll Mexico, business initiative award
2005–2006 Lauren Derebey South Korea, English teaching award
2004–2005 Shalene Breci South Korea, English teaching award
Mira Yusef The Philippines, research award


Faculty Fulbright recipients 1999-Present (partial list):
2011–2012 Jimmy Senteza Uganda Martyrs University, Uganda, teaching and research award
2010–2011 David Skidmore Hong Kong, teaching award
2009–2010 Karl Schaefer Egypt, research award
2009 Christa Olson Canada and Mexico, research award
2008-2009 Darcie Vandegrift Venezuela, teaching and research award
2007-2008 Chip Miller Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines, curriculum review and recommendations for business programs
2007 Jim Dodd Reykjavik, Iceland, teaching award
2004 Rahul Parsa Durban, South Africa
2000 Mark Kende South Africa, research award
2000-2001 Elizabeth Robertson Cotonou, Benin, West Africa, teaching award
1999-2000 Jim Dodd Trondheim, Norway, research and lecture award

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