University of Michigan students received 21 Fulbright grants for the 2016-17 academic year — the most of any public university in the nation for the 12th year in a row, the U.S. State Department announced.
Fulbrights were also awarded to nine U-M faculty members. Their interests range from investigating doctor communication about cancer in China to studying St. Lucia Lake’s environment in South Africa.
The grants — one of the U.S. government’s most prestigious awards — fund the students’ research or teaching overseas for six to 12 months. This year, their interests range from studying Bengali women relationships in India to examining piracy between Spanish and British America in Jamaica.
“Global education and international engagement enhance cultural understanding and make our world safer,” said President Mark Schlissel. “I am proud that so many U-M students are committed to using their talents to make a positive impact across international borders.”
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright program seeks to increase mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries, as well as help the recipients achieve their academic goals. Nearly 2,000 U.S. students, artists and young professionals from 100 different fields are offered Fulbrights each year.
Crucial to U-M’s success has been the staff at the university’s International Institute who provide individual advising to applicants throughout the application process.
“These results reflect the quality of our students and the commitment of the faculty and staff at the International Institute to preparing students to succeed in this competition,” said Pauline Jones Luong, the institute’s director. “It is also a testament to U-M’s broader commitment to international experiences and education. The institute is proud to be a key partner in fulfilling this commitment.”
Recipients are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential. Former grantees include actor John Lithgow, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, opera singer Renee Fleming and economist Joseph Stiglitz.
U-M’s student grantees this year include Farida Begum, who is spending time in India and Bangladesh researching daily lives of early Bengali women.
“Receiving a Fulbright means that I get to interact with people in the host country and spend time in the local educational institutions,” she said. “It is incredible for my research because a big chunk of my work is based on oral history.”
Another grantee, Andrew Rutledge, is a doctoral student studying smuggling and piracy in between Jamaica and Cuba in the 1700s.
“The Fulbright scholarship is a springboard of my long-term goals,” he said. “Being supported for six months while I research and write my dissertation is invaluable.”