Wesleyan Named Fulbright Program Top Producing Institution for Fifth Year in a Row

Sarah ParkeFebruary 13, 20247min
1200x660 Fulbright

The U.S. Department of State has released its list of Fulbright Program Top Producing Institutions for the 2023-2024 academic year and Wesleyan University has earned a spot for the fifth consecutive year.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international academic exchange program. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 talented and accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds with the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. Fulbrighters exchange ideas, build people-to-people connections, and work to address complex global challenges.

Six Wesleyan University students were selected for Fulbright awards for academic year 2023-24, and five accepted the opportunity. The Wesleyan Connection profiled these students’ academic and personal journeys in August of 2023. Now, four of the students are living and studying abroad in Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America.

  • Nick Bowman ’23 is in Israel, where he is studying toward a master’s degree in Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa.
  • Ben Levin ’23 is in the Czech Republic, where he is an assistant teacher of English at a secondary school.
  • Anna Tjeltveit ’23 is an English teaching assistant in Bremen, Germany.
  • Margalit Katz ’22 is an English teaching assistant in Mexico where she works with 17 different middle school classes. In her free time, she is taking dance classes, volunteering, and interviewing local friends about the gentrification in Mexico City to better understand it ties to the city’s fragile geology.
  • Emily McDougal ’23 will depart for her English teaching assistantship in Argentina in spring of 2024, arriving in time for the start of the new academic year in the southern hemisphere.

Wesleyan has a long history with the Fulbright program, with faculty, students, and alumni taking advantage of funds to pursue academic interests outside the United States.  The University also hosts visiting Fulbrighters on our campus, both through the Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program and through the contributions of Fulbright visiting faculty from a range of countries who come to teach, research, and participate in community life on our campus. Professor Pawan K. Sharma, from Central University of Haryana, Mahendergarh, joined Wesleyan University for the 2023-24 academic year as a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence from India teaching advanced courses in the chemistry department.

“Wesleyan has long supported students in applying for Fulbright grants, and the program is an important facet of our ongoing internationalization efforts,” said President Michael S. Roth ’78. “Cultural exchange opportunities through the Fulbright program provide an ideal outlet for Wesleyan graduates’ curiosity, creativity, and dedication to improving our shared world through practical idealism.”

Alumni who participate in the U.S. Student Program go on to a wide range of next steps in their careers, many of these strongly influenced by their Fulbright experience.

Shourya Sen ’15, who traveled to Laos as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in 2017 to 2018 is now a Ph.D. candidate studying comparative politics at Princeton University. In October of 2023, Sen took part in a virtual event where he spoke with Wesleyan students interested in teaching in Asia. He emphasized that his current research on Laotian politics has its foundation in his Fulbright year.

David Vizgan ’21 serves as a great example of a scientist embracing the Fulbright program’s international mission. He spent a year doing research on the origins of the universe at the Cosmic Dawn Center in Copenhagen, Denmark, before beginning his Ph.D. in astronomy at University of Illinois. He is currently a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and an Alumni Ambassador with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Erica Kowsz, associate director for fellowships at the Fries Center for Global Studies, supports and advises Wesleyan’s Fulbright applicants. She believes that current Fulbright success at Wesleyan begets future interest. “When Wesleyan students win Fulbright grants it often encourages great students to apply, even when they feel a bit daunted by the process. I love to see students encouraged by their peers’ success and learning from near-peer alumni about how to shape their path after Wesleyan.”

“As an alum of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program myself, I’m very aware of what a life-changing experience a Fulbright year can be,” Kowsz said. “Being abroad for a year and connecting deeply with your host community while doing work that really matters to you expand your horizons and shapes what you go on to do in the long term, sometimes in ways you couldn’t have anticipated.”

Students and recent alumni who are interested in applying to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program should visit the Office of Fellowships webpage and contact fellowships@wesleyan.edu to find further resources. The Fries Center will host a hybrid in-person/virtual launch event for the new application cycle on Thursday, March 7 at 2 p.m. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the program is invited to register here and list Wesleyan University as their institution.

Erica Kowsz contributed to this story.