Dyson Alums Win Fulbrights - And You Can, Too!

Darya Kraynaya ’08, Fulbright Scholar

Darya Kraynaya ‘08, Fulbright Scholar

Walleska Lantigua ’08, Fulbright Scholar

Walleska Lantigua ‘08, Fulbright Scholar

Two recent Dyson College alumnae have been awarded Fulbright scholarships to teach English overseas.

Darya Kraynaya ‘08 will spend the 2008-09 academic year in Spain, and Walleska Lantigua ‘08 will spend the year in South Korea. To learn more about the Fulbright application process, read a Q&A with Lantigua or Kraynaya.

 The students are among 1,450 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2008-2009 academic year with the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The Fulbright Program, America’s flagship international educational exchange program, is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Approximately one in five applicants is awarded a scholarship. While it is competitive, it’s not impossible, says Fulbright advisor Bill Offutt, who counsels students through the application process on the New York City campus.

“You’re competing with everybody else in the U.S. who applies for that particular country,” Offutt explained. “But, we’ve been very successful at getting our students through. Nobody has a guarantee, but last year 4 out of 11 got in. This year 2 out of 9 earned scholarships, and four others were recommended for the final round of consideration.”

The basic requirements to apply are that a student must be a U.S. citizen, have a minimum 3.5 GPA, and be in his or her senior year or the year directly following graduation.

The application process begins, ideally, during the summer preceding a student’s senior year, according to Offutt.  It is during this time that the students should make two important decisions. First, they should choose which type of scholarship they want to apply for – research or teaching English. Second, they should choose the country they’d like to visit. Applicants may only apply to one country.

Students can still start the process in September, but after that, they’d probably be too late for that year, Offutt advises. He urged students to notify him by Sept. 15, 2008 if they want to apply for the 2009-10 academic year.

Next, Offutt says, students should begin to flesh out their application.

“The idea is that you learn something about the country and something about the project,” said Offutt. “If you want to teach, you need to know something about their education system. By the end of the summer, I want students to have a pretty clear idea of where they want to go and what they want to do, but not necessarily the full proposal.”

he real work on the application is concentrated during the first seven weeks of the fall semester since applications are due on Oct. 20.

“The amount of writing is actually relatively small,” Offutt said. The application is comprised of a proposal (a two-page, single-spaced essay), a one-page personal statement, and three letters of recommendation.  Some countries also require students to complete a one-page language evaluation form.

In his experience, the personal statement is usually the hardest part.

“It’s often easier for them to write the proposal than to write about themselves,” Offutt said.

Offutt works with students on both. Students will send outlines and rough drafts, and he recommends talking to their adviser and faculty. In the library’s electronic reserves, there are PDFs of all the successful essays from Pace since 2001. Students can use examples.

 “Fulbright is looking for volunteer experience, worldly experience … The idea is we send our students there, they send their students here, and between us we’ll find world peace,” Offutt said with a laugh. “They want good ambassadors from the U.S., so they’re looking for students who are engaged in the community.”

By Oct. 6, applicants need to submit to Bill a print-out of a rough draft of their essay, proposal, online application, and turn in the letters of recommendation.

Between Oct. 6-15, the students attend informal on-campus interviews with three faculty members form the campus committee, who talk to the student for a half hour about the proposal and make recommendations and an evaluation.

The entire process can be done in a month and a half, with the exception of the research proposal. Once the initial application is submitted, applicants in the research track have another month to submit their research proposal since they require an affiliation, usually with a university in the host country.

The final applications are due to the faculty advisor by Oct. 17.

“Then they wait,” Offutt said.

The application goes first to an in-country committee, which recommends candidates by January.  Then, a final committee in the host country chooses the scholarship winners from among those recommended.

“A huge percentage of people who have had Fulbrights say this has opened doors,” Offutt said. “The students are not under pressure to make grades, and they get time at night and on weekends to explore the culture. I would definitely encourage students who are interested to apply.”