In the past three years, three HSS alumni have won both Fulbright and Pickering fellowships. Two of these alumni won Fulbright teaching assistantships (to teach English abroad) while one won a Fulbright research fellowship. All three went on to win prestigious and highly competitive Pickering fellowships, which help support them in their graduate studies and prepare them for admission to the US Diplomatic Corps upon completion of their master’s degrees.
Esther Tetruashvily, our first of the this trio, graduated in 2011 as an honored member of Phi Beta Kappa. Esther majored in International Studies and English and also studied abroad in Madrid during her time in HSS. She taught English as a Fulbright in Azerbaijan and this year completed her final year of an M.A. in Russian & East European Studies at Harvard University. In addition her Pickering Fellowship, Tetruashvily was also awarded a Soros Fellowship for new Americans and a general fellowship from Harvard to help finance her graduate education.
Carolina Chica was next to win both the Fulbright and Pickering awards. She graduated in 2012, also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, as well as a WILL student and WGS and Communication Studies double major. Carolina studied abroad in Cairo, Egypt and then went on to teach English on the Fulbright in India (yes, that is conveniently the country she is pointing to on the map to her left). Carolina is completing her first year of an M.A. program at George Washington University with a fellowship from GWU — as well as with funding from the Pickering, too.
Last but not least came Bryan Furman, Class of 2013, also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Bryan double majored in International Studies & Psychology (also with double minors in Russian and Eurasian Studies). Not only did he study abroad like the other hundreds of TCNJers every year, he shipped himself off to Moscow for a year with the prestigious Boren Scholarship. Bryan didn’t stop at Russia: he also completed a Maymester program with Dr. Jo-Ann Gross in Central Asia. Bryan’s post-TCNJ Fulbright is currently underway in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and once he has completed his research there, he will begin an M.A. in Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies at Georgetown University (notably, with his Pickering and Georgetown fellowship).
Dr. JoAnn Gross (History), one of the prime well-wishers for the extraordinary scholars, put special effort into pushing them toward their current successes. “My teaching philosophy is to tap into students’ natural talents and academic interests, and to push them beyond their comfort zone to explore ideas and to produce research they never thought they were capable of doing previously,” Dr. Gross said. Even more than that, to Dr. Gross this trend speaks volumes of TCNJ’s staff and faculty as a whole.
“For me, the outstanding record of 3 TCNJ students successfully competing for the Pickering Fellowship is extremely exciting, since it shows that we, as an academic institution, and as a group of committed teachers of highly selective undergraduate students, are doing our job well,” Dr. Gross postured.
Dr. Jon Stauff of the Center for Global Engagement (TCNJ) explains that he introduced these students to the possibilities, through which they would sort and find their futures. All three tremendous alumni were peer advisors at the CGE and began irrevocably global academic and professional careers right there in 111 Green Hall.
“All of these programs – Boren, Fulbright, Pickering, et al. – are national competitions featuring the best and brightest students with an interest in global engagement, diplomatic service, and the international NGO sector,” Dr. Stauff explained. “They are incredible assets for students with career aspirations in these areas, as they have already shown that they are among the best students we have in a nationwide pool of applicants.”
Being among “the best and brightest” might seem like incredible pressure. Yet this trend of winners at HSS shows that the right kind of focused academic mentorship make a world of a difference. With the loyal and unending dedication from our professors, like Dr. Jo-Ann Gross (History) and Dr. Brian Potter (Political Science), these students were mentored to take courses and undertake projects that could, and did, lead to these extraordinary Fulbright and Pickering opportunities.
Then, Dr. Stauff makes a brilliant comment to put this all into perspective for students everywhere. “[A] student needs to choose a path and do what it takes to get to the destination. These students show us how to do that on an international stage.”
Dr. Potter made it clear that TCNJ students, above all, can make this work for them. “TCNJ offers so many opportunities for enrichment but if students are not actively searching for them, they lose out,” he explained.
Moreover, all jobs nowadays are set within a global context. With that in mind, it’s imperative for those who are similarly curious to explore the possibilities that exist across the globe–not just in U.S. hometowns and college campuses.
“Students will be working with teams of co-workers, often from different cultures and perhaps speaking several languages, on projects,” Dr. Stauff said in regards to the increasingly global workplace, “To prepare for these challenges, undergraduate students should take advantage of the opportunity to learn a foreign language, experience a different culture.”
In other words, follow Esther, Carolina, and Bryan as possibilities models. Network, learn a foreign language, study in a culture distinct from your own, and recognize the immense potential of your own globalized future.
General information on the scholarships mentioned above:
Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to U.S. undergraduate students to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The countries of Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are excluded.
The Core Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program sends approximately 800 American scholars and professionals per year to approximately 130 countries, where they lecture and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields.
The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program has a series of new innovative opportunities to meet the changing needs of a diverse academic community in the United States.
– See more at: http://exchanges.state.gov/us/program/fulbright-us-scholar-program#sthash.zywcgvO4.dpuf
The Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship Programs are a collaborative effort between the United States Department of State and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Programs provide academic and professional preparation for outstanding candidates to enter the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service, representing America’s interests abroad. Pickering Fellows are undergraduate and graduate students in academic programs relevant to international affairs, political and economic analysis, administration, management, and science policy. Women, members of minority groups historically underrepresented in the Foreign Service, and students with financial need are encouraged to apply.
Pickering Fellows receive mentoring, professional development, and financial support as they prepare to enter the Foreign Service. Upon successful completion of the Foreign Service examination, Pickering Fellows make a commitment to a minimum of five years of service in an appointment as Foreign Service Officer. Candidates must be able to obtain medical, security and suitability clearances in order to remain in the program.