Tyra Wu ’19
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program that offers research, studying and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. In 1945, Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill into the United States Congress that called for the use of surplus war property to fund the “promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.” This highly competitive program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study.
This year Smith’s record group of 43 applicants had a 40 percent success rate compared to the national average of 17 percent. This year Smith garnered 17 Fulbright Fellowship offers, one Beinecke Scholarship and two German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Fellowships.
During their grant-funded time, Fulbright recipients work and live with people in their host country. The program facilitates cultural exchange through daily encounters in the classroom, field or home. Grant lengths vary by country. Grant benefits for all Fulbright U.S. recipients include round-trip transportation from the U.S. to the host country, funding to cover room, board and incidental costs and accident and sickness benefits. In some countries, grants may also include research allowances, tuition and language-learning programs.
The application process involves submitting academic transcripts, a statement of grant purpose, a personal statement and references.
“There are a lot of steps, and sometimes it can feel daunting and overwhelming,” Anna Partridge ’16 said. “However, I would say that the amount of effort you put in really pays off, because not only do you end up with an excellent application that you can be very proud of, [but] you also learn a lot about yourself, and you gain a lot of confidence from investing so much time into something you care about.”
Applying for a Fulbright is a lengthy process; however, the Smith Fellowships Program provides much guidance for students throughout the entire process. Students receive help on everything from deciding where to apply to writing the application essays.
“They encourage students to come talk to them early and often to get feedback and bounce ideas around, and I’m so glad I was able to have such experienced people to talk to throughout the fellowship application process,” Partridge said.
Partridge will be in Finland studying at Lappeenranta University of Technology in their Master’s program on Energy Systems. She will be focusing on bio-energy systems and pursuing her Master’s thesis research on thermochemical conversion of biomass into hydrogen.
“When I found out about the Fulbright, I was like screaming and running around and also crying a little,” Partridge said. “It feels so amazing to have something you have invested so much time and energy to pay off. I was absolutely honored to be chosen, and I am beyond excited to be starting a new adventure.”