With help from Florida State University’s Office of National Fellowships, 10 FSU students and alumni have received the prestigious Fulbright Award—the most in a single year for the university. This year’s tally of Fulbright recipients tops FSU’s 2006 record of eight—and is a sign of the university’s continuing commitment to help students pursue opportunities for educational and personal enrichment, according to Jamie Purcell, director of the Office of National Fellowships.
“FSU is really becoming a powerhouse in the Fulbright competition,” Purcell said. “This is truly a sterling achievement for these students, the faculty and staff who have mentored and supported them, and for the university.”
Steve Uhlfelder, a Tallahassee attorney and former member of the FSU Board of Trustees who also chairs the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, called the 10 Fulbrights “an amazing feat. Very few universities have this many Fulbright recipients in a single year. It is a tribute both to the hard work of the students themselves and to that of the university faculty and administration.”
The award winners are Natalie Binder, Dan Carlson, Jamal Grimes, Megan Hewitt, Katie Hodges, Timothy Lorton, Anna Philp, Matt Phipps, Natasha Rocas and Nathan Timpano. With their awards, they will study, conduct research and teach English overseas next year in eight different countries across the globe. FSU students Thomas Henderson and Douglas Westlake were selected as alternates.
Purcell said the Fulbright Program for U.S. Students awards only the highest-caliber students with a genuine commitment to cultural engagement, and it has an extensive selection process. Fulbright is the largest international exchange program in the United States. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, it offers opportunities for students, scholars and professionals to study and conduct research internationally, as well as worldwide opportunities for teaching.
“These remarkable students are a living memorial to the legacy of Senator Fulbright and his commitment to peace and cross-cultural understanding,” Purcell said.
J. William Fulbright was a U.S. senator whose bill, signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946, launched the program that bears his name.
The 10 Fulbright recipients have a variety of plans for their awards:
- Binder, of Monticello, Fla., earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and interdisciplinary social sciences from FSU in December 2006. With her English Teaching Assistantship, she plans to travel to Indonesia, where she hopes “to improve relations between America and the Islamic world by teaching English.” In her Fulbright application, Binder explained that “if we are to bridge the divide between poor countries and rich ones, between religious countries and secular ones, between fundamentalism and liberalism, then we must be on—for want of a better phrase—speaking terms. In fact, we must do much better than that; we must communicate.” Binder was selected for a special diplomatic placement at a boarding school for Islamic girls in East Java.
- Carlson, who earned a master’s degree in physical oceanography from FSU in April, will conduct research in the Middle East. “While in Israel, I will be working on several projects that examine the coupling between ocean dynamics and biota (ocean life) in the Gulf of Eilat,” he said. “The Gulf of Eilat is a narrow arm of the Red Sea that is bordered by Israel on the north, Jordan and Saudi Arabia on the east, and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt on the west.” Carlson, who received a Fulbright full grant, is from St. Petersburg, Fla.
- Grimes, who earned a bachelor’s degree in risk management insurance with an emphasis in finance in April, has received an English Teaching Assistantship, which will give him the opportunity to teach high school students in South Korea. He is from Ormond Beach, Fla.
- Hewitt, who earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in December 2006, graduated with a double major in anthropology and religion. With an English Teaching Assistantship, she plans to teach high school students in Indonesia. “As an ambassador for the United States, I can share personal experiences of American culture and language as well as receive a wealth of experience through immersion into Indonesian society in a cultural exchange,” Hewitt said. She is a resident of St. Petersburg, Fla.
- Hodges, of Winter Park, Fla., also received an English Teaching Assistantship, which will enable her to teach in Taiwan for 11 months. “I will teach English to students in grades 1 through 6 to raise mutual cultural understanding and to explore the Taiwanese culture and educational system,” she said. Hodges earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from FSU in April.
- Lorton, of Winter Haven, Fla., graduated from FSU in April with a bachelor’s degree in both German and music. While teaching English language and American culture in Germany, he also plans to learn Turkish and learn more about the Turkish culture within Germany. Lorton also will travel around Germany visiting important sites, especially those related to music and religion, to gain cultural fluency. Afterward, he plans to pursue a career teaching German in the United States.
- Philp, of Miami, graduated from FSU in December 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs. She has received a French Government English Teaching Assistantship; along with teaching English, she will pursue additional French language study and also study French immigration and history while in France. “After reading the mission statement of the Fulbright Program, I felt the deep stirrings of excitement at the prospect of such a life changing undertaking,” Philp wrote in her application. “What the program detailed excited me from every possible angle: From the intellectual to the emotional, the rationalist to the dreamer, I knew that I had to try for it.”
- Phipps, of Venice, Fla., will graduate with honors from FSU in August, having double-majored in creative writing and Spanish. With his English Teaching Assistantship, he will teach students in Chile. “I propose to gain valuable teaching and tutoring experiences at a Chilean university while perfecting my Spanish,” he said. “…I will also conduct research on the Chilean cueca”—an Andean musical genre —”its roots and influences, and its presence in contemporary Chilean music.”
- Rocas just earned a bachelor’s degree in English from FSU, having studied both literature and creative writing. With her English Teaching Assistantship, she will travel to Turkey, where her main focus “will be teaching English so as to provide a neutral form of communication that crosses cultural and linguistic boundaries where individuals can explore mutual influences.” She also “will engage in Turkish culture while investigating my own American-Mediterranean heritage. I will then complete a book of poems that explores Levantine culture/identity.”
- Timpano, a native of Lewistown, Mont., earned a master’s degree in art history from FSU in December 2006 and is currently working on his doctorate. He received a Fulbright full grant, which will enable him to conduct research for his dissertation in Austria. “I will conduct original research on the use of expressive theatrical body gestures in Viennese Secessionist paintings, and specifically those appearing in Expressionist works by Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Koloman Moser and Max Oppenheimer,” Timpano wrote in his Fulbright application.
For more information, visit FSU’s Office of National Fellowships.