A record 45 Georgetown University students and graduates have been named Fulbright student scholars during the 2019-20 cycle, the most of any college or university in the United States.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program funds research opportunities and teaching fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students worldwide, according to the program website. This year’s cohort of Georgetown Fulbright student scholars is the largest number of students admitted to the program in university history, after 30 recipients set the previous record during the 2018-19 cycle.
Fulbright student scholars receive federal funding in the form of grants to study abroad after graduation, conduct individual research, pursue master’s degrees or teach English in foreign countries. Douglas McKnight, a third-year doctoral student in the German department and 2019-20 Fulbright grant recipient, will use his grant to study the impact of World War II on the cultural memory of Austrian cities. McKnight would not be able to further his research without the support of the scholarship program, he wrote.
“Fulbright provides graduate students the ability to conduct on-site fieldwork for an entire academic year that is fully funded,” McKnight wrote. “Fulbright has a great reputation abroad and being a Fulbright scholar enables you to access resources that might otherwise remain inaccessible.”
The historic number of student recipients comes after a yearslong initiative by the Georgetown Office of Fellowships, Awards, and Resources to raise awareness for the program and bolster resources to better support applicants, according to Lauren Tuckley, senior associate director of fellowships.
“When I first came here I saw that this program was completely underproducing what we could produce because this is a very good program for Georgetown’s students, especially because it’s internationally focused,” Tuckley said in an interview with The Hoya. “This has been the first year, after eight years of deliberation and developing the recruitment advising and the review packaging of this, that we’ve been able to achieve the 45.”
Since Fulbright was founded in 1946, 492 Georgetown students have taken part in the U.S. Fulbright student scholars program, according to a Feb. 10 university news release.
University President John J. DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) congratulated the Georgetown Fulbright student scholars for their commitment to global improvement in a Feb. 10 university news release.
“We are deeply honored by this distinction earned by the students and alumni of our Georgetown community,” DeGioia wrote in the news release. “The contributions of our Fulbright recipients – past and present – represent a profound commitment to service, to the pursuit of knowledge and to building bridges of understanding.”
The record number of admitted students to the program this year is a testament to Georgetown’s strong academic program and institutional support, according to McKnight.
“Georgetown should be proud that it has such a large cohort abroad with this program,” McKnight wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Fulbright has a great reputation abroad (and here in the US), and having so many Georgetown students and alumni taking part in it reflects the high level of academics offered at the university across the board.”
GOFAR provides a number of resources for applicants to the Fulbright program. Each applicant is aided by a personal advisor, as well as a faculty panel, which reviews and provides feedback on the application, according to Katrin Sieg, a German professor who served as McKnight’s faculty advisor.
The resources provided by GOFAR are key reasons for the success of Georgetown applicants, according to Sieg.
“We have a great infrastructure in place, we have people who tell students about grant opportunities, fellowship opportunities,” Sieg said in an interview with The Hoya. “We have people who do mock interviews for the Fulbright so they get a lot of help so beyond the individual advisor and of course that plays a really big role in getting a grant.”
All applicants to the Fulbright program gain invaluable experience and perspective, according to Tuckley.
“This was a program that was founded in 1946 after the second world war with an idea that to become a more tolerant citizen we need to embrace other cultures. That is an essential component to why we tremendously promote and recruit,” Tuckley said. “We hope that anybody that goes through this process ultimately leaves with a set of skills that’s invaluable to them irrespective of whether they win or they lose.”