The prestigious Fulbright student grant had been on the minds of seniors Tyler Butkus and Nelli Orozco pretty much since they came to Elizabethtown College.
Since 1945, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries. Upward of 3,600 college seniors, recent graduates and graduate students are recommended for the competitive program each year.
Though the application isn’t due until mid-October, the process takes a significant amount of time, said Joel Janisewski, assistant director of Prestigious Scholarships and Fellowships at E-town. “Students often start working on their application the summer before, so they have time to pull all the parts together.” They must write two essays and secure recommendations from faculty members. There’s also a campus interview, he said. “The faculty members who participate in the interview know the student, and we put together a report for the application.”
Butkus and Orozco are 2017 Fulbright Finalists, the term used to describe a candidate who has been offered a Fulbright U.S. Student grant.
“We work to figure out the best fit between what the student wants to do and has to offer and what the participating country is looking for,” said Janisewski.
Orozco, a Spanish education-PreK-12 major, is heading to Spain for an English teaching assistantship. She “fits the profile for the kind of students Fulbright wants to support,” Janisewski said. “She’s been involved in teaching even before coming to Elizabethtown, and she’s already spent a year in (Valladolid) Spain.”
Orozco, who attended Elizabethtown as part of the College’s Momentum program for first-generation college students, leaves for La Rioja in north Spain in September 2017 and will remain there until June 2018, teaching elementary-age students. It’s her second time in the country, having earned a summer enrichment grant to travel in her sophomore year.
When she told her family about the Fulbright, they didn’t understand at first, Orozco said. “My parents are from Mexico. They only went to school up to fifth grade. … They knew I loved teaching, and I love Spain, so they were happy, but I’m not sure they grasp how prestigious it is.”
Fulbright requires each student to be involved in service work, so, Orozco plans to also teach Spanish and English to community members near La Rioja where there’s a large concentration of Pakistani and South American immigrants, she said.
Language also was integral to Butkus’ Fulbright, too. The Elizabethtown College Stamps Scholar is headed for independent research in technology pertaining to social enterprise at Bumi Langit permaculture institute in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
He wanted to travel abroad in his sophomore year, but the workload of being a chemistry and business double major made that impossible. A Critical Language Scholarship, via the U.S. Department of State, however, took him to Malang, Indonesia, in summer 2016 where he “spent two months studying Bahasa Indonesia, via classroom study and immersive cultural experience,” said Janisewski
Butkus’ academics, his previous work in Indonesia and his ability to speak the language as well as his interest in social enterprise in developing economies were likely pluses on his application.
At Bumi Langit, Butkus continues research begun on food recycling as an intern at nearby Graybill Processing Inc., where he was a business intern, hired initially “to look at Excel spreadsheets.” As the internship progressed, he introduced a plan to use black soldier fly larvae to reduce food waste. “The grubs eat the food and can be harvested as feed for poultry and fish. … The system has great potential.”
Butkus and Orozco are E-town College’s eleventh and twelfth Fulbright. “The Fulbright program has a great track record,” Janisewski said. “Students drawn to the program want to take part in change.”
Please note: Communications Manager, Elizabeth Harvey, originally wrote this article for E-town NOW published on April 20, 2017. E-town NOW is Elizabethtown College’s online newsroom. Click here to view the original article.