by Lauren Eller
Although many grants and fellowships have not been released, Kenyon has already seen an increase in the number of its Fulbright recipients. As of now, nine current students have received Fulbrights, up from the seven winners last year. But there are still more coming in, as a number of countries to which students applied have yet to release their decisions.
Director of the Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships Jane Martindell reported that of the roughly 40 Kenyon students who initially applied to enter the process, 22 students were approved by the national office of the U.S. Fulbright program. Then, their applications were sent to their countries of interest. Of those 22, nine students have been awarded the Fulbright.
The College created Martindell’s position in 2013 in order to increase fellowship opportunities for students. President Sean Decatur asserted that her work has been beneficial to students. “On the one hand, I think there’s always room for us to do more, but I think that both the work that Jane [Martindell] has done in that area has been great in terms of improving the support for students,” Decatur said. “I think it was a good move for us to put more emphasis and support in that area. And I think it’s going to continue to pay off.”
Martindell will be transitioning out of the role soon and Assistant Professor of English Thomas Hawks will take over as the Director for Office of National Fellowships and Scholarships.
Although more students have received Fulbrights, this year students have received a smaller amount of other kinds of grants. One student has received the Goldwater Scholarship, and another has recieved an honorable mention. But so far, no other grants or fellowships have been awarded.
“We’ve done historically better in the [non-Fulbright scholarships] than we did this year,” Martindell said. “That’s down a little this year, I suppose.” She ascribed the fluctuation to the varied composition of each applicant class and their relative interest in grants and fellowships.
Professor of Political Science and liaison for the Fulbright program David Rowe described how Fulbright applicants must discover the ideas they want to explore and research while they are abroad, “and why that research is important and what it means both for our understanding of the world and also for them personally,” he said.
Mary Alice Jackson ’15, a history and modern languages and literatures double major, has received a Fulbright and will be an English teaching assistant in Argentina in the upcoming year. “I knew … that I wanted go abroad, and I knew to some extent that I wanted to teach in some capacity or that I wanted to be involved in education,” she said. She felt the Fulbright program was a good option for her future plans because it fit her interests.
Anastasia Zhigalova is a Fulbright language teaching assistant from Russia now at Kenyon. She described the process of of applying as a lengthy one, lasting over a year in total, and one that involved numerous essays, an exam of English proficiency and an interview. But in the end, she was rewarded with an offer from her favorite institution.
“We were chosen by the universities and then … there was this matching system,” Zhigalova said. “We were offered a list of five universities … and we had to rank them in order of preference. And, you know, Kenyon was my number one on the list.”
In the next few weeks, grants and fellowships will likely be awarded. “Kenyon students should really feel good about our success in the fellowship process and be really encouraged to do it,” Martindell said.