Flying away with a Fulbright

Photo by Ryan Gilroy

By Ryan Gilroy ’19, Staff Writer

What started as an application almost a year ago became one of the best decisions three students ever made.

While anxious at first, the tension eased with time and was overcome with joy after the finalists were announced for the Fulbright scholarship.

Seniors Calyn Lutz, Rachel Duong and Alexa Kanakry were selected as finalists and will teach and live abroad in their respective countries. Lutz will travel to Mexico, Duong will travel to Brazil and Kanakry will travel to Spain.

“When I got the notification about receiving a Fulbright, I was sitting in my cubicle at my internship and I saw the notification at the top of my phone screen,” Duong, an English and Spanish double major, said. “Next thing I knew, the email popped up on my phone and all I saw were the words ‘Fulbright’ and ‘Congratulations’ and I was absolutely ecstatic!”

The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 by J. William Fulbright, a former senator who represented Arkansas from 1945 to 1974. He proposed the idea as legislation in 1945 and was then signed by President Harry Truman one year later.

“I heard about the Fulbright scholarship from the articles and posts I had seen of past LVC students who had won the award and from Dr. Benesch’s emails about it,” Kanakry, a music and music education double major, said. “I will be living in Galicia, Spain, and I will be teaching English, most likely in a secondary school.”

Since its inception in 1946, the program has given more than 360,000 students the opportunity to participate in international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and primary and secondary school teaching in more than 160 countries worldwide.

Past Fulbright winners from LVC include Hannah Pell ’16 (Austria), Megan Lough ’17 (Bulgaria), Jasmine Olvany ’17 (Hungary), Audrey Reiley ’18 (Malaysia), Kristy Sonberg ’18 (South Korea) and Katie Hockenbury ’18 (Wales).

“I already had the idea that I would want to travel for a year after graduating and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to do something with my travels by teaching English if I were to receive it,” Duong said.

The scholarship offers three different types of awards: Study/research, an English Teaching Assistant and Special Programs for Digital Storytelling Fellowships. The program awards approximately 8,000 scholarships annually, with 1,600 going to students across the U.S.

“I will be teaching English and United States Culture to university students wherever I am placed,” Duong said. “I also plan to take on a video project, in which I will be recording my experiences there to produce and publish a sort-of vlog or documentary-style project to supplement my interest in filmmaking.”

To date, LVC has received a record of nine Fulbright grants since 2016, matching the number of grants received from 1976 to 2015.