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Six students awarded Fulbrights

Students will travel to Germany, India, Spain and the UK after graduation

By Philip Ellefson
On April 20, 2012

Six UP seniors will go abroad this fall to teach, study and conduct research through grants they received from the Fulbright Commission.

Seniors Jessica Marsh, Bianca McCluskey and Jason Hortsch were awarded English teaching assistantships (ETAs) in Germany, while senior Chris Lew received an ETA in Spain.

Students with ETAs work in classrooms 12 hours per week to help students in their host country learn English. Senior Kurt Berning received a grant to travel to the UK, where he will do graduate study in education and development at the University of East Anglia. Senior Jennifer Brannan was awarded a grant to India to research water treatment.

Last year, 10 students from UP were awarded Fulbright scholarships, five of which were ETAs to Germany. According to "Washington Monthly," more Fulbright scholars came from UP last year than any other masters university.

Although the number of Fulbright scholars has dropped this year, it is not inconsistent with UP's normal results, according to John Orr, assistant to the Provost for Fellowships and Grants.

"Until last year, five was the most we had ever gotten," Orr said. "So this year, we're actually right on where we've been."

Orr also said the Fulbright scholarships have become more competitive, especially the ETAs to Germany.

"It used to be that any student who made the state-side cut got the ETA to Germany," Orr said. "But it's getting more competitive. More people across the country are applying now."

Germany accepts more Fulbright scholars than any other country, with 140 ETAs given to students from the U.S. each year.

McCluskey, a German studies major, applied for the ETA to Germany because of her undergraduate studies abroad experience in Salzburg, Austria during her sophomore year.

"That's the reason I became a German major, was because I wanted to do that yearlong program, and this is where I am now," McCluskey said. "As a freshman, I never would have imagined it."

When Brannan got her letter, she was excited to find out she would be researching clean water solutions in Kanpur, India.

"It was so overwhelming, I didn't know how to react," Brannan said. "I felt like screaming and crying and dancing and laughing at the same time. I spent the whole day telling everyone I know."

Brannan looks forward to applying her knowledge to research in India and hopes to draw on her UP education.

"Before starting college, I wanted civil engineering to serve some bigger purpose, like going to India or some developing country," Brannan said. "But the class that really inspired me was an environmental engineering course."

Marsh is excited to see how she can develop through her teaching assistantship in Germany.

"On a personal level, I hope to gain the independence of knowing I can do it," Marsh said. "On a professional, practical level, I think that being around a hands-on learning environment will be really helpful to me career-wise."

Hortsch is excited to go abroad not only for academic reasons, but also because it gives him an opportunity to connect to his heritage.

"A large part of my heritage is German, so I want to fully immerse myself in that culture, because it's a part of me," Hortsch said.

Lew, a Spanish and biochemistry double major who studied in Granada for a semester, looks forward to the cultural experience of his year abroad.

"One of my favorite things is just immersing myself and experiencing their way of life," Lew said. "I hope I can just learn more about other cultures."

Berning is looking forward to his year of study abroad because it will give him not only academic experience, but also a new environment to learn in.

"I want to get as much experience out of it as I can, not just in the classroom, although that's important," Berning said.

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