Temple was named one of the top producers of Fulbright finalists with 10 students receiving grants in 2017, according to the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
This year’s 2017-18 group of finalists is the largest the university has ever had.
“All along, Temple students have had the ability to do this, it’s just that there hasn’t been a full-time dedicated person helping students apply,” said Barbara Gorka, the university’s director of scholarship development and fellowship advising.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program, providing grants to undergraduate seniors, graduate students, doctoral candidates and recent graduates. Through this program, students are able to pursue international graduate studies and teach English at universities and primary and secondary schools in more than 140 countries.
Gorka is hosting Fulbright Week, this week, with events each day through Thursday. Fulbright Week is a week of information sessions open to all students to learn about the program. These sessions will cover topics like how students can use grant money, what makes a competitive Fulbright candidate and what students need to think about if they want to apply, Gorka said.
There are three remaining one-hour sessions open to all students, regardless of class standing, with two on Tuesday.
Gorka recommended students begin preparing to apply for a Fulbright Program at least one year in advance to be a competitive candidate. The next application cycle will be for the 2019-2020 program year.
Gorka hosted two overview informational sessions on Monday. She will also host a session for law and pre-law students, another for English teaching assistantships and one for research, study and arts grants throughout the week.
Each year, the Fulbright Program awards about 1,900 grants in all fields of study. These grants cover the cost of round-trip transportation to the host country, room and board and health benefits.
In certain countries, grants will cover additional expenses, like book and research costs and full or partial tuition for students attending graduate school.
Gorka is responsible for mentoring and helping students apply for scholarship programs like the Fulbright Program and the Truman Scholarship, which is awarded to 55 to 65 college students who are active in their communities and plan to pursue a career in public service. Two students were national finalists for the Truman Scholarship this year.
Gorka said the Fulbright Program is a perfect fit for Temple students.
“Fulbright cares about students who have a global mindset, who get involved in their community, who have already done research, or who have already had experience teaching or tutoring,” she added. “Temple students get involved in Philadelphia and the Temple community.”
Temple’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese is one of the largest producers of Fulbright students at the university. Four of the 10 Temple finalists for the 2017-18 year are students or instructors from the department.
Gorka said students must consider how their research or English teaching assistantship is going to fulfill the Fulbright mission of increasing cultural understanding between people of the U.S. and people of other countries.
“It’s about how students can put together a proposal, how they can get involved with their host community,” she added. “It’s not just about teaching English or doing research. The Fulbright Program wants you to be an integral part of the community to fulfill that mission of cultural exchange and understanding.”
Elaina Hawkins, a senior secondary education world languages major focusing on Spanish, is a semi-finalist for the 2018-19 Fulbright Program and hopes to complete an English teaching assistantship in Spain.
Hawkins heard about the Fulbright program after she received emails from Gorka last March. She hopes to teach in Spain for one year, and then return to teach Spanish in the Philadelphia area.
“The Fulbright seems like a good next step, and if I get it, it will definitely help with future career choices and options,” Hawkins said. “I hope to get more experience teaching English and learn more about Spanish culture.”
After studying abroad in Spring 2017 in Oviedo, Spain, Hawkins realized there is much more to Spain and the Spanish language.
“I’d like to be able to immerse myself in a part of Spanish culture that is not really known by the rest of world and be able to share that with my future students,” she added. “From that, I hope to learn about other South American cultures and work toward creating a globally centered classroom.”