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AU Named a Top Producer of Fulbright Scholars Two Years Running

By Devin Symons

AU Named a Top Producer of Fulbright Scholars Two Years Running

Yanique Campbell with AU assistant vice president of Campus Life Fanta Aw. Photo by Jeff Watts.

The Fulbright Program recognized American University as a “top producer” of Fulbright U.S. student scholars. This is the second consecutive year the university has appeared on the list of top-producing institutions published by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Fulbright Program offers participants—chosen for their academic merit and ambassadorial qualities—the opportunity to study, teach, or conduct research around the world. This year’s recipients represent a diverse array of schools, majors, and interests. Five AU students received English Teaching Assistantships to Spain, Venezuela, South Korea, and Indonesia, and five received grants to conduct research in Mexico, Brazil, India, New Zealand, and Ethiopia.

“Over the years, we have developed a system for mentoring candidates, and I think that this has helped us to have positive outcomes,” says Paula Warrick, director of the Office of Merit Awards. “A university cannot be successful in this competition without having stellar, motivated students and dedicated faculty mentors to support them.”

MORE: Office of Merit Awards and other scholarship opportunities

More than a third of AU students who applied for the Fulbright Program received an award, while on average less than a quarter of applicants from all other top ranked universities—including Harvard and Columbia University—received awards.

Veronica Beaver, CAS/BA ’13, is one of those motivated students. Beaver is currently pursuing an English Teaching Assistantship at a bilingual school in Madrid, where among other responsibilities she runs a Model-UN program, teaching students writing and debate skills.

She is not surprised by the news of AU’s top producer status.

“AU students are very hard-working and passionate people who… possess skills and abilities that help them adapt to life in foreign countries, and serve as ambassadors to the U.S.,” says Beaver. “I think American University has such a high success rate with Fulbright applications because the Merit Awards staff, along with the faculty, provide a great support system.”

Sarah McKibben, SPA/MPA ’13, also credits faculty and staff with giving her the support and encouragement she needed to develop from concept to completed application.

“I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to education and the policies and practices that enable a good [education] for everyone, but I didn't have a clear idea of how that would translate to a Fulbright at first,” she says. “So many people were dedicated to making my idea a better one, and that better one a reality.”

McKibben will travel to New Zealand in January to begin work on her research project, exploring the power of relationships and social networks to drive change in educational systems. Upon her return to D.C. she plans to apply her research to a career in educational policy.

MORE: Relationships Drive Fulbright Winner

AU’s Fulbright applicants “believe in the idea of transforming service into long-term, meaningful contributions to the public good,” says Yanique Campbell, SIS/BA ’13, now on an English Teaching Assistantship in Spain.

Originally from Jamaica, Campbell has long been active in youth literacy in New York and Washington, including founding a new literacy program at a D.C. public charter school. She applied for a Fulbright to further her experience in education, language, and cross-cultural collaboration.

“After obtaining an advanced degree in international development, my goal is to find work geared towards enhancing the quality of life and access to resources of people living in the developing world,” she says.

All three scholars see the Fulbright Program as a foundation for their future and each have plans to apply their experiences academically and professionally. That’s a common thread among AU’s applicants, says Campbell.

“AU students are driven, tenacious individuals who take seriously the mantra of ‘turning ideas into action and action into service,’” she says, “and [they] see Fulbright as a conduit through which to realize those contributions.”