Dickinson Earns Distinction

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For the fifth time in twice as many years, the Chronicle of Higher Education named Dickinson a top-producing Fulbright institution. Based on data from the US State Department, Dickinson was ranked 28th out of a list of 39 similar-sized institutions, based on its success rate of five grant recipients and 16 applicants for the 2013-2014 grant year.

Sponsored by the US State Department, the Fulbright program was established in 1946 and has since awarded 300,000 merit-based grants to US students and scholars for study, research, and teaching abroad. This year, the program is sending more than 1,800 grant recipients to 140 countries across the globe. Among their ranks are five Dickinson graduates: Christina Socci ’13, Leffery Lewek ’13, Melissa Phoebe Oldach ’13, Melissa Reif ’13, and Olivia Stevens ’12.

According to Jeremy Ball, assistant professor of History and Fulbright advisor, the 2013-2014 success rate for Dickinson Fulbright applicants matches the college’s usual range for annual grant recipients.

“In the six years I’ve been advising [Fulbright applicants], our success rate has been pretty constant – some years it’s fewer, but it seems that we fluctuate between the range of 3-6 [recipients] each year.”

Fulbright hopefuls submit an application in October and go through two elimination rounds before being awarded a grant. They can apply to one of three application categories: academic, arts, and the English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program. Three of Dickinson’s 2013 grant recipients – Socci, Lewek, and Reif – are part of the ETA program, while Stevens and Oldach received research grants.

Ball speculates that Dickinson’s emphasis on global education and small size gives its students an edge in the highly competitive Fulbright application process.

“I think there are a couple of reasons [Dickinson produces so many Fulbrights],” said Ball. “One, language is really important, and because we have strong languages and study abroad programs, we have success [with Fulbrights]… a lot of students who have received Fulbrights have studied abroad, and I think there’s a correlation between language ability, study abroad, and being successful with a Fulbright application. [Another reason] is that a lot of research ideas come from working closely with faculty on research projects.
Also, the atmosphere and campus culture help – if people are talking about the program or you’ve seen people you know have received a Fulbright, you’ll be more interested in applying.”

17 Dickinson students applied for the 2014-2015 grant cycle, the deadline for which passed on Oct. 16. Students who are interested in pursuing a Fulbright grant in the future are encouraged to contact Ball, Sarah McGaughey, assistant professor of German and Fulbright advisor, or Damon Yarnell, dean of Academic Advising.