Pitt students earn chance to go abroad
Jen Rainey | Collegio Reporter
Nichole Brown and Robyn Hilt are two of the three Pittsburg State University students to receive a Fulbright Scholarship in the last 10 years.
“I wasn’t going to apply, but Megan Corrigan encouraged me to,” said Brown, senior in psychology. “I honestly didn’t think I’d get it.”
Brown will be teaching English to Muslim high school students for nine months. She says she is leaving for Indonesia on Aug. 4, which is her birthday, and she will return on May 4, 2013.
“I’m taking it as a good sign that I started on my birthday,” Brown said.
The Fulbright Scholarship provides students with a stipend, round-trip transportation to the host country, maintenance for the academic year based on living costs in the host country, book and research allowance, health-care coverage and mid-term enrichment activities in many countries. In some cases, it also pays full or partial tuition, as well as language and orientation programs.
“The program is set up differently for different countries,” said Corrigan, assistant director of international programs and services. “Generally recipients go to the countries as teaching assistants.”
The selection process begins on May 1 for the following school year. It’s open to graduating seniors, graduate students and recent graduates. Students begin the application process by submitting two essays: a statement of intent and a personal statement. The applicant then meets with Corrigan, Harry Humphries, associate professor of history, philosophy and social sciences, and Craig Fuchs, director of the Honors College. During this meeting, the applicant is interviewed. If the applicant is approved, the committee will write a letter of recommendation to be sent to the National Fulbright Board in New York. If the board in New York accepts the applicant, everything is forwarded to a board in the host country for final selection.
Brown says she found out she was selected after spring break.
“I began shaking a little when I found out,” Brown said. “I got real excited and my hands were unsteady. I was more shocked than anything because I really didn’t think I’d get it.”
Humphries, faculty adviser for the Fulbright Scholarship, says the number of PSU student applications for the Fulbright Scholarship has increased since Corrigan was hired two years ago.
“She’s done a great job with the international program,” Humphries said. “Our student applications for the Fulbright Scholarship have increased about 300-400 percent.”
Humphries says because Hilt’s dad was the Dean of the Honors College for several years, he has known her most of her life. He says this will be a life-changing event for her.
“This will be a big jump for Robyn,” Humphries said. “We really encouraged her to keep applying.”
Hilt tutored Korean students in the writing center at Pittsburg State and grew up with international students coming over to her house. So, when the opportunity to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship arose, she put in an application to Korea.
“Korea was my first choice,” said Hilt, senior in English education. “When you apply for a Fulbright, you can only apply to one country. You have to put all your eggs in one basket.”
Hilt will be teaching English from July 2012-July 2013. She will spend the first two months as a student in the intensive language program, learning to speak Korean. She will work with a cooperating teacher in Korean who is certified to teach English. During the first semester, Hilt will observe this teacher and her work in the classroom. During the second semester, Hilt will take over teaching. Hilt says this will be the first time she has traveled overseas.
“I think that this experience is going to be life-changing,” Hilt said. “It is going to give me valuable training teaching English Language Learners and working with debaters of another culture.”