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Looking to the future

Dukes selected as semifinalists for national fellowships abroad


by Ciara Brennan ('17)

 
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Rachel Corley, a senior international affairs and Spanish double-major, is a semifinalist for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Mexico.

SUMMARY: Thirteen Dukes from the College of Arts and Letters were selected as semifinalists for prestigious educational exchange programs sponsored by the U.S. government.


On the last Friday in January, 49 Dukes – myself included – refreshed emailand checked application portals in anticipation of the release of semifinalist results for Fulbright’s U.S. Student Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It had been over three months since we submitted our applications to teach Englishpursue graduate study, conduct research or complete artistic projects abroad. 

The program, open to college graduating seniors and young alumni, was created to facilitate cultural exchange and encourage intercultural appreciation through personal and professional encounters. In a normal year, the program draws thousands of applications. In a year that can be described as anything but “normal,” Fulbright announced that 2020 saw the highest application numbers since its inception 75 years ago. 

Of JMU’s 49 applicants, 31 were met with the exciting news of semifinalist status in the most competitive cycle to date. Of the 31 semifinalists, 11 earned degrees – or will soon graduate – from the College of Arts and Letters.

Three JMU students also received semifinalist results for another prestigious national fellowship: The Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, a U.S. government effort to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages. From the College of Arts and Letters, Lauren Palmieri (’20) and Hannah Schilling were selected as semi-finalists to spend summer abroad engaged in intensive language courses in Turkish and Arabic, respectively.  

What is easy to miss in the excitement of the semifinalist results being announced is the long, arduous road that all the applicants had to endure, just to submit their applications. The countless hours of writing, editing, scrapping altogether and re-writing personal statements and grant proposals. The emails and phone calls, often abroad, to discuss project ideas or request letters of affiliation. 

Then, there are the campus interviews, which are only intended for applicants’ benefit, but come with nerves all the same. Trusted professors, mentors and employers are called on for letters of recommendation, and Meredith Malburne-Wade, the Director of Student Fellowships Advising at JMU, remains on standby for nearly a year with timeline informationastute feedback and “You’ve got this!” emails. It was Malburne-Wade who helped me to mold my clay aspirations last January into an application that could hold water.  

The final draft (the eighth or twelfth version that finally gets submitted) is an amalgamation of past experiences and current passionsas well as a projection of who we could become and how we could Be the Change in a different part of our shared worldThis process takes a village, and it takes imagination, endurance and hope. Cheers to all the Dukes who spent most-uncertain year looking ahead and imagining how they might contribute to and be inspired by the global human community.

 

Fulbright U.S. Student Grant Semifinalists from the College of Arts and Letters
  • Ciara Brennan ('17), who graduated with a bachelor's degree in writing, rhetoric and technical communication, is a semifinalist for the Young Professional Journalist Program in Germany.

  • Maria Castillo ('20), who earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and justice studies, is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Spain.

  • Kyle Chambers ('18), who graduated with a bachelor's degree in History and is studying for a master's in teaching at JMU, is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Czech Republic.

  • Rachel Corley, a senior international affairs and Spanish double-major, is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Mexico.

  • Aliyah Hall, a senior Honors student majoring in media arts and design, is a semifinalist for graduate study in Ireland.

  • Emma Hollern ('19, '20M), who earned a bachelor's degree in English and a master's in teaching, is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Czech Republic.

  • Lillie Jacob, a senior Honors student majoring in English, is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Luxembourg.

  • Sara Leming, who is pursuing a M.A. in political science at JMU, is a research semifinalist for the European Union.

  • Haley McAllister, a senior History major, is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Moldova.

  • Julia Rogers ('20), who graduated with a bachelor's degree in international affairs, is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Colombia.

  • Tyler Strosnider, a senior public policy and international affairs major, is a semifinalist for an English Teaching Assistantship in Taiwan.

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Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 17, 2021

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