I have always been passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. Studying economics as an undergrad exposed me to the field’s power and how it can be used as a tool More »
My Fulbright in Stellenbosch, South Africa, was divided into two primary areas: research and community outreach. The research portion of my fellowship focused on knee replacement implants and the different tribological properties More »
By Michael A. Verlezza, 2014-2015, Canada
Not long after 9/11, I enlisted in the United States Army. Eight years and two deployments later, my outlook on life grim, I opted to separate from the military. Rudderless, I enrolled at Bridgewater State University with the aim of completing an economics degree, and after some success, I was invited to an informational meeting with a member of Fulbright’s outreach team. Lured largely by the prospect of free pizza, I attended a meeting that would reset my life’s course.
As a freshman, I had taken a Canadian history course, and coupled with my complete lack of language skills, Canada seemed the strategic choice. Initially, I pitched a proposal that had me studying international exchange rates. I was assured that this was boring (even by economists’ standards) and told to go back to the drawing board. Not long after, the VA’s report outlining the frequency of veteran suicide was published. As a disabled veteran myself, I began to wonder what American tax dollars were getting us if they weren’t ensuring the safety and care of my fellow vets.
My Canadian history professor set me up with the Principal of the Royal Military College, and I put together a proposal whereby I would study federal spending on Canadian and American veterans. In addition, I proposed I augment my analytical skills (and thus my research) by taking a Master’s of Mathematics and Statistics from Queen’s University in Ontario.
Fulbright to Friendship: Connecting the Past to the Present with the Refugee Community in Trieste, Italy
By Umberto Speranza, 2016- 2017, Italy
Arriving in Italy nearly five months ago, I felt confident and proud to be returning to the country, and region – Friuli Venezia Giulia – where my grandparents emigrated from just 60 years ago. When Umberto and Maria Stolfo said goodbye to Friuli to start a new life in the United States, the Fulbright Program was just 10 years old. I’m certain that the last thing on their mind was the possibility that one day their grandson would return to Italy while serving as a cultural ambassador between their native land and their adopted home. On second thought, perhaps that is exactly what they were thinking.
In a year in which the Fulbright Program celebrated its 70th anniversary, I began my Fulbright journey to Trieste, Italy – the capital city of the region in which my grandparents were born and raised. I am here to assess how political situations impact refugee policy-making at the local level and to highlight the human consequences that ensue. Without a doubt, the journey they made as Italian immigrants to America ultimately paved the way for me to have this Fulbright experience. I am able to use this good fortune to work every day with people arriving from across the world with the hope that Italy might just be the adopted home that will allow them to create a future so bright that their children and grandchildren might never know the suffering that stems from war, terror and oppression.
Congratulations to This Year’s Fulbright Top Producers! Check Out Our Interactive Map Featuring This Year’s Student Program Institutions.
On Thursday, February 9, 2017, 19 newly selected Fulbright U.S. Student Program Alumni Ambassadors met in Washington, DC to receive training on how to promote and recruit for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Staff members from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and the Institute of International Education (IIE), along with previous Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors, shared tips on effectively presenting the impact, innovativeness, and inclusiveness of Fulbright Program opportunities. The orientation workshop emphasized the unique and important role that Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors play in inspiring a diverse range of students, artists, and early career professionals – as well as the Fulbright Program Advisers and college administrators who support them – to learn more about the Fulbright Program and the power of educational and cultural exchange.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Alumni Ambassador Program was established in 2008 to identify, train and engage a select group of approximately 15-20 Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni to serve as representatives, recruiters and spokespersons for the Fulbright Program. They are selected annually through recommendations from Fulbright Commissions, U.S. Embassy staff, area managers, and the Fulbright Student Program Outreach Division, and approved by the Fulbright Program’s sponsor, ECA. Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors come from an array of different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, states, fields of study, and institutions and have participated in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in all world areas.
To learn more about the Fulbright Alumni Ambassador Program, please click here.
By Sofia Melendez, 2011-2013, El Salvador
Being a Fulbrighter will always be an important part of my life. The opportunity to study and immerse myself in a culture abroad opens your horizons and makes you grow in every way. Even still, I never imagined that Fulbright would have an impact on my life in an even more profound way. I am from El Salvador, and in 2011, I was awarded a Fulbright grant to pursue a master’s in tourism at the University of Florida. Upon graduating, I returned to El Salvador, but soon after, I was offered a job with an international organization based in Washington, DC.
During my Fulbright, I was involved in Fulbright-specific networking opportunities such as gateway orientations, enrichment seminars and the Fulbright Association Chapter events. I made a lot of friends through these events and I have visited them both in the United States and around the world whenever I have the chance.
New to the DC area, I joined the Fulbright Association National Capital Area Chapter. In November 2014, I attended one of the chapter events: an open house reception at the Goethe-Institut. There is where I met Martin. Martin was at that time a visiting researcher on a Fulbright grant from Denmark, doing a one-year research project at the National Institutes of Health. During our first conversation, I recognized the same spark in his eyes when we talked about our dreams, passions and careers. Despite being from very different countries and cultures that speak different languages, have different professional opportunities and different social norms, we found in each other a partner with the same values, goals and dreams.