On Monday, Feb. 9, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a list of institutions that produced the highest number of Fulbright scholars and students in the academic year 2019-20. The College of Wooster was one of the institutions that were included on the list, and it was recognized for producing four Fulbright award recipients last academic year.
The students who received the awards were Emani Kelley ’19, Burke Poeting ’19, Joe Besl ’09 and Erin Tupman ’19. Kelley and Poeting were awarded English Teaching Assistantships in Spain and Germany respectively, where their responsibilities include pre- paring and leading classroom activities in English. Likewise, Besl and Tupman have received Study/ Research Awards and are now conducting research in Canada and Russia respectively. Besl is currently pursuing research on water issues and climate change, while Tupman is continuing her research on Russian literature. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is an exchange program that allows students, as well as professionals, to undertake advanced research, university teach- ing, international graduate study and primary and secondary school teaching throughout the world. According to The Fulbright U.S. Student Program website, this program “currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
While the process of applying for the award is competitive, the College has a committee dedicated to helping applicants, which is led by Professor of sociology and anthropology David McConnell and Associate Professor of biology Laura Sirot.
The Voice reached out to one of the award recipients, Kelley, who described the process of her application and explained her plans for the future.
Kelley mentioned that she immediately reached out to McCo- nnell after deciding to apply for the Award, and that he helped her throughout the process. “I had decided within the first month of the school year that I wanted to apply for a Fulbright in Spain, so I immediately reached out to David McConnell and asked for his advice in terms of where to even begin with my application. He was extremely helpful in guid- ing me and providing me with the right questions that helped me nar- row my focus and what I was looking for out of a potential Fulbright experience,” Kelley said.
She also mentioned that she received help outside of the committee as well. “I received a lot of guidance from my professors, coworkers in the Writing Center and even past Fulbright alum from Wooster,” she stated. “The College does a great job of providing applicants with the tools and resources needed to be able to apply for whatever type of program Fulbright offers, which is typically as an English Teaching Assistant or Researcher. They are present and available throughout the personal statement and grant writing phases. The amount of times that I both sent my drafts to the board and made Writing Center appointments to go over my statements was too many to count! It was extremely helpful to have extra sets of eyes read it over, watch its evolution and offer valuable suggestions that ultimately helped me turn it into an award-winning element of my application. It also helped me feel more confident in my application to be able to go through that interview process with Wooster’s Fulbright Board and have them ask me questions in person and provide for that opportunity to really polish the application in its entirety before officially sending it to the U.S. Fulbright Board.”
Kelley also highlighted some of the academic experiences at the College that helped shape her professionally. She said, “As a psychology major, much of what I learned and many of the experiences and interactions I had with my professors and advisors have helped me in learning about what I do and don’t want professionally. After having successfully gone through I.S. and writing an Honors thesis using the resources that Wooster provided to help me along the way, I have gained the tools necessary to teach about writing a thesis, work with students from various academic disciplines on all types of writing and actually feel comfortable doing so.”
While Kelley is currently enjoying her experience as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, she has also started looking into her plans after the nine-month program comes to an end. “I am currently working as an English Teaching Assistant and Writing Center tutor at a university in Madrid, Spain and loving it,” she remarked. “This year I even co-authored a Writing Manual that will be published by the university. After this Fulbright year, I will be applying to graduate school (probably for a Master’s in philosophy).”
She also stated that she has several resources at Wooster who will be able to support and guide her when that time comes.
While Kelley does not plan to continue formal teaching after the program ends, she mentioned that she will still be pursuing a career that is tied to education. “I do not think that formal teaching is something that I have a particular passion for, but education is. I know that whatever route I do end up taking professionally, there will be an educational component and both Wooster and my Fulbright experience will have prepared me for that in many ways,” she concluded.