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The University of Michigan boasts 19 students and seven alumni as finalists for the 2018-2019 Fulbright Student Program.
The Fulbright program was introduced in 1945 when Sen. J. William Fulbright presented a congressional bill that encouraged student engagement in the international community. The program currently offers research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries to U.S. citizens who complete their undergraduate degree before the grant date. The recipients of the grant include young professionals that hold or are pursuing bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degrees.
Among the announced finalists, 13 U-M students were offered English Teaching Assistantships through the Fulbright program. ETA recipients assist local English teachers in classrooms around the world, including Bulgaria, China, Germany, Malaysia, Mexico, Slovak Republic, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey.
Eleven students and recent graduates were offered the Fulbright Study-Research Award, which allows recipients to work on research projects at foreign universities.
According to Margo Lakin from the International Institute not everyone who is named a finalists accepts the Fulbright.
“The term “finalist” denotes that a grant offer has been made but does not indicate acceptance/decline status,” Lakin wrote. “The notification process is dynamic and still in progress; therefore, the number of finalists can fluctuate.”
Eric Peterson, a recent LSA graduate, is one of the named finalists for this award. As an undergraduate, Peterson researched Rydberg atoms in professor Georg Raithel’s atomic physics laboratory. Last summer, Peterson participated in a two-month research project at a French university through a National Science Foundation grant.
Peterson credited his experience in France for his interest in working with people from different countries.
“Science is really an international effort, whether that be through large collaborations or just through the sharing of knowledge, and I think my experience in France opened my eyes to this,” Peterson said.
Under the Fulbright Study/Research Award, Peterson will be working at the ELI-NP research facility in Romania, studying interactions between high-energy laser pulses and solid material.
Two other individuals will be participating in unique Fulbright programs. Laura Lapidus, a recent Music, Theatre & Dance graduate, has been named the finalist for the John Wood LAMBDA Award in Classical Acting. Each year, the award gives one finalist the opportunity to pursue a one-year master’s degree in classical acting at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art.
Another finalist, recent LSA graduate Merin McDivitt, was accepted into the Binational Internship Program in Mexico. The program allows fellows to intern at a Mexican company or organization while taking classes at a local university. McDivitt is looking forward to working and studying in Mexico City.
“I’m so excited to live in Mexico City!” McDivitt said. “I visited the city recently and fell in love with it — it has more museums than any other city in the world and is home to literally thousands of unique communities, a stunning national park and dozens of layers of ancient and modern history.”
McDivitt is interested in sustainable tourism and heritage-based businesses in Latin America and hopes that she will learn a lot during her experience.
“I hope to gain a much deeper understanding of Mexican culture, particularly the business and arts environments.” McDivitt said. “Mexico has a rich, impressive tradition of regional artisan wares that I can’t wait to explore and see how I can collaborate on future projects that raise awareness of Mexican heritage.”
When reached for comment, the University spokesperson Kim Broekhuizen said, “It is always great to see our students recognized.”