The University will continue to boast the highest number of Fulbright recipients of any public institution in the country.
For the 2014-2015 academic year, 28 University students received Fulbright grants. Six faculty members were also awarded grants through the program.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program distributes fellowships for students to pursue studies, research, training or teaching abroad.
The U.S. State Department announced the list Thursday morning, with only Harvard University, which earned 33 grants, receiving more than the University.
Last year, 33 University students were named scholars.
In a release, University President Mark Schlissel said the 28 scholars represent the University’s commitment to global affairs.
“U-M is thrilled that our young scholars are once again so well-represented in the Fulbright Program,” Schlissel said. “These 28 students are a testament to our strong academic programs and commitment to global engagement that nurtures a passion for creating positive impacts across international borders.”
At the University, students complete a multi-step process to apply for a Fulbright grant, guided by the International Institute. Perspective recipients meet with a faculty and staff fellowship team several times to discuss their application and prepare for further steps, such as an interview.
Pauline Jones Luong, director of the International Institute, said there are several benefits both for the students and for the campus in devoting staff and faculty time toward preparing Fulbright applicants.
“It’s incredibly valuable because it showcases both the quality of the students at the U of M, the international orientation of those students, the global interests those students have, as well as the commitment of the University to ensuring that its students have an international experience, international education,” she said. “It’s a win-win both for students and the University.”
University alum Nathan VanderVeen, one of the Fulbright recipients, is currently stationed in Seropédica, Brazil. He is pursuing an English teaching assistantship at the Federal Rural University, as well as using his science background to work on a water purification project in the Brazilian favelas.
“The Fulbright Program in general does favor the humanities and people who are interested in intense literary research,” VanderVeen said in a Skype interview Thursday from Brazil. “But we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought the ambassadors of the world were all English majors or foreign language majors. Those people who are constantly liaising with other countries are also the scientists, physicians, engineers of the world.”
VanderVeen first applied as a junior during his undergraduate studies and was rejected, but then reapplied for a 2015 grant.
He said the University’s status as a public school makes it unique in its amount of Fulbright grantees.
“Being a public institution, I think that’s just so admirable because it puts such an emphasis on embracing students from all walks of life and still helping them reach the highest level of academic and professional success,” VanderVeen said.
He added that as a part of his experience, he hopes to draw on the diversity of people he will be exposed to abroad.
“For me, it’s really important to connect with a diverse array of people from different backgrounds, people with different belief systems, so that I can become the best teacher that I can possibly be.”