By Haley Hadge
FSU ranks nationally for faculty accepted to the Fulbright Scholar Program, which offers invaluable interpersonal and cultural understanding for FSU students and faculty, according to the University’s website.
According to the Fulbright Program’s website, Fulbright awards provide opportunities for “project-based exchanges at host institutions across the globe” to academics and professionals.
Director of Grants and Sponsored Programs Patricia Bossange said when the “pandemic was raging” last year, no students from FSU applied to any of the Fulbright Programs. She said she believes travel restrictions were the main cause of the lack of student applicants.
Though student numbers are low, she said, “Framingham State is on the leaderboard for faculty Fulbright [Scholars] nationally.”
She cited last year’s numbers of faculty Fulbright Scholars, and said the most “Fulbrighters” from one institution was four, “and Framingham State had two. So that’s good as far as that goes.”
Bossange added that the Office of Grants and Sponsored Programs recently received a congratulatory letter for their Fulbright Scholar Program participation and success from the Massachusetts Secretary of State, William Francis Galvin.
She said her office is working on increasing their social media outreach to spread awareness of the program across campus in an effort to revive its previous success.
The legislation that established the program was introduced by then-Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, and was approved by President Harry Truman.
The Council for International Exchange of Scholars administers the program, and according to the FSU website, the council has “placed to date over 50,000 U.S. faculty and professionals to travel to 140 countries to research, teach, and lecture.”
Bossange said her office helps FSU student and faculty applicants by looking over their applications to the program.
Though there were no applicants last year, Bossange said she had approximately 10 interested students meet with her. “I was just so excited that so many students were interested. None of them applied.”
Nationally, Bowdoin College had the highest number of student Fulbrighters last year with 14.
Bossange said there’s no reason why FSU can’t be higher in the ranks, adding, “If Bridgewater State can have six, we can, too. So that’s my goal, just to have more people.”
She said as someone who studied abroad when she was an undergraduate, it is “amazing” to go to another country and study.
“I think it really puts your own existence into perspective,” she said.
Bossange said she studied in Ireland her junior year as an English major.
She said she entered the experience expecting to “fit right in” since she spoke the language. However, she said it was through her travel that she realized the fullness of being American in another country.
She felt like an “other,” adding, “It’s so good for you to feel like an ‘other,’ like somebody who’s from somewhere else, because it really helps you treat people with more respect, but also puts you in your place in the world.”
President F. Javier Cevallos was a recipient of an award from Fulbright’s International Education Administrators Program in 2021.
“I had a wonderful experience,” said Cevallos.
Bossange and her colleague, Dr. Erika Schneider, professor of Art History, worked with Cevallos on his application to the program.
He spent two weeks in France with a group of fellow recipients, where he said they visited other institutions to observe and learn from their teaching practices.
Cevallos explained the French system of higher education has two tracks. They are the “Grandes Ecoles” and “universities,” as they are known in the U.S.
Grandes Ecoles are “specialized universities” for students to partake in more intense study in a specific field.
He said he had the opportunity to talk with researchers about the work they were completing, and he was learning “non-stop.
“We have been fortunate to have Fulbright Scholars visiting us and staying with us in the past. Hopefully, we’ll have Fulbright Scholars coming to be with us in the future.”
Cevallos said the program “brings collaboration and cooperation between the United States and the rest of the world.
“It’s been going strong for a long time and hopefully will continue to be a strong program for many, many years to come.”