For a dozen years straight, Kenyon has been recognized as a top producer of winners of the J. William Fulbright Fellowship. Among national baccalaureate institutions, the College tied for 11th in the number of Fulbright winners it produced for 2015-16, according to a report published Feb. 22 in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
“This honor demonstrates Kenyon’s commitment to helping our students thrive in a globalized world,” said Thomas Hawks, associate professor of English, who directs Kenyon’s Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships. “It also speaks highly of Kenyon students that they are singled out so frequently by the Institute of International Education to represent the U.S. around the world.”
Last year, Kenyon produced 11 Fulbright winners who were selected to teach English to students in Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Kosovo, Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and Uruguay. Hawks added that the Fulbright gives these students “a leg up on careers in teaching, research and international work.”
Joe Walsh ’15, an anthropology major from Baltimore, traveled to Prizren, Kosovo, to teach English and learn about the country’s cultures and how they interact. “My Fulbright has given me a great opportunity to live in a completely different place where people think in very different ways,” he said. “On a Fulbright, you learn lessons and discover questions you did not know you had.”
Walsh, who has gained experience working with Kosovo’s non-governmental organization Cultural Heritage without Borders, wants to pursue a career related to cultural studies, archaeological and heritage preservation or human rights. “I have become interested in human rights in the second youngest country in the world and how the country will develop in the future,” he said. “This experience has helped me put my life, education and future into perspective.”
Olivia Lott ’15 from Minneapolis is teaching 20 English classes a week to students at the Universidad de Boyacá in Tunja, Colombia. The Spanish literature major also is developing a research project to translate contemporary Colombian poetry into English. “The project has granted me access to Colombia’s literary culture, to poetry readings and events, and to private conversations and friendships with new writers who are forging the path their national poetry will take,” she said. Lott wants to apply her experience to a doctorate program in Hispanic literatures and pursue a career as a translator, professor and scholar of Colombian poetry.
To promote international education opportunities like Walsh’s and Lott's, President Sean Decatur hosts an annual reception for sophomores that gives them an early introduction to the Fulbright and other fellowships. The Center for Global Engagement also works with students interested in off-campus study, matching about 45 percent of the junior class to programs abroad, developing their passion for international study.
Hawks, who replaced retired director Jane Martindell in the National Fellowships and Scholarships Office this year, also credits the work of Martindell and Kenyon faculty members in recruiting Fulbright applicants and helping them succeed.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright program provides funding for students and young professionals seeking graduate study, advanced research and teaching opportunities worldwide. Around 1,900 grants are awarded annually by the program, which operates in more than 140 countries.