Karli-Jo Storm, AS’09, taught English in Azerbaijan. Brittany Buchholz, AS’06, studied Islamic principles in Jordan. Their experiences were made possible by Fulbright grants; this year, six more Drake University students and alumni have been selected as Fulbright finalists, giving them the chance to join these students’ ranks. The six students represent the largest class of Drake-affiliated finalists ever.
“Having Fulbright scholars from Drake is a great reputation booster,” says Eleanor Zeff, associate professor of politics and international relations and director of the Fulbright program at Drake. “These students serve as ambassadors for both Drake and the United States, so people hear about Drake and see that our students are nationally competitive.”
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries by means of educational and cultural exchange,” according to the preamble of the legislation that created the program. The program awards approximately 1,700 student grants per year, selecting scholars based on the strength of the student’s application and the needs of the country. A GPA of around 3.7 to 4.0 is usually recommended for potential Fulbright Scholars at Drake, although this is not a requirement.
The largest number of students from Drake to receive Fulbright grants in an academic year is three. Zeff says the number of students coming to her for help applying for these grants grows each year.
The 2012 finalists:
• Amina Kader, international relations major, is a finalist to teach English in Oman.
• Kate Albrecht, AS’05, GR’11, is a finalist to teach English in Poland.
• Lindsay Wharton, currently a Rhodes Scholar, is a finalist to pursue her doctorate degree in Finland.
• Cara Pratt, environmental policy and international relations major, is a finalist to teach English in Brazil.
• Anna DeVries, politics and international relations major, is a finalist to teach English in Indonesia.
• Lisa Scott, AS’11, is a finalist to teach English in South Korea.
Many of the finalists have been planning to go abroad after graduation since they began at Drake. Pratt says she heard about the Fulbright program her first year at Drake and planned her education with the goal of receiving a grant.
“I’m lucky to have had students, professors and advisors who have served as my mentors here at Drake,” says Pratt. “Older students paved the way and inspired me to do things I would have never considered otherwise.”
Fulbright grants aren’t the only programs for students wishing to study, teach or work abroad after graduation. Ryan Price, a junior law, politics and society and study of culture and society double major, is currently a finalist for a Truman Scholarship, which provides up to $30,000 in funding to students pursuing graduate degrees in public service fields.
While none of the finalists have been officially accepted to their program, being a finalist in a highly competitive program is special.
“It’s an incredible honor to be selected as a Fulbright finalist,” says Albrecht, who earned her MA in Secondary Eduation from Drake. “Being selected as a finalist is confirmation to me that I chose the right career path.”