The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI Fulbright program named top producer third year in a row

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Ben S
Honda Nuernberg, recipient of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award, poses for a portrait inside the Daily Iowan TV studio on Tuesday, June 20. Nuernberg drew parallels between her work and the work of Junot Diaz, a Dominican American writer whose multilingual background, Nuernberg draws inspiration from. She will be moving to Morocco to pursue a career in teaching university students the English language. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)


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For students looking to go abroad, the top-producing University of Iowa Fulbright program is a good choice.

The UI has been named a top producer of Fulbright scholars for the third year in a row, jumping from 30th to 15th in the rankings. It tied with Columbia and Stanford, each having 16 recipients in the 2017-18 school year. Forty-one UI students.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program gives grants to recent graduates, master’s and doctoral candidates, and young professionals for research projects. The program has evolved quite a bit over the years, offering new programs such as teaching assistantships and expanding research opportunities in new countries.

RELATED: UI surges in Fulbright scholars

Fulbright program adviser Karen Wachsmuth said she’s thrilled to see the university climb so high.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for students to go abroad and build on the knowledge that they’ve been gathering here at the university,” she said.

Two UI students participating in the new teaching-assistantship program, Samantha Westphal and Kate Will, are both going to Argentina to teach English in March, though they have different reasons for their country of choice.

RELATED: Fulbright Scholar heads to Argentina

Westphal, who has an interest in global health, said the international experience gained from this program and her previous study abroad in Chile will help her in her career.

“I wanted to get more global experience after I graduated from college, and I really believed in the message of Fulbright, which is promoting peace and exchanging cultures through education,” she said.

Will was a Spanish major and wants to be a Spanish teacher at the high-school level, so this trip will be an opportunity for her to become more fluent.

Faculty in the program put a lot of work into making sure students do their best during the lengthy application process, something Westphal appreciated. Applicants write personal statements, essays, a grant application, and need numerous letters of recommendation from faculty.

Workshops and classes are offered to students for essay help, and Fulbright mentors meet with them to make sure everything is going well and offer advice.

“They help you kind of help you hash out your ideas, and help you develop and grow personally throughout the classes,” Westphal said.

RELATED: Passion for teaching leads to Fulbright award

Wachsmuth said she meets with every applicant throughout the process and puts on events aimed at helping students and providing them with opportunities to learn from faculty.

One such event in early April, Fulbright Week, offers workshops and presentations every day from faculty for students. The students also have the opportunity to meet at the end of the school year to write first drafts before heading home for the summer.

“This commitment to nurture students, to help them realize their goals, on the part of faculty, staff, administrators, I think this is reflected in our Fulbright standing …” Wachsmuth said. “The whole community has responded in a very positive and forward-looking way to help our students succeed, and I think that’s a really powerful moment for the university.

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About the Contributor
Brooklyn Draisey, Projects Editor


Email: [email protected] Brooklyn Draisey is the Projects Editor at The Daily Iowan. She is a senior studying journalism and entrepreneurial management. She has worked as a news reporter, news editor, and managing editor during her time at the DI. She enjoys writing long-form, in-depth features.