College a top producer of Fulbright scholars

February 11, 2019

Fullbright LogoSaint Michael’s College is included on the list of U.S. colleges and universities that produced the most 2018-2019 Fulbright U.S. students – that is, American college students awarded Fulbrights for educational experiences around the world.

Fulbrights are highly competitive international grants given to students, scholars, professors and young professionals to study, research or teach overseas. Each year the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces the top producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes the lists annually, posting its latest report Monday morning, February 11.

Under the Fulbright scholarship, graduating seniors are allowed to study abroad for one year. Established in the name of the late Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright, the Fulbright Scholarship was designed to promote understanding and empathy between different cultures.

Four students from Saint Michael’s received Fulbright awards for academic year 2018-2019, placing Saint Michael’s on a list alongside the very top colleges and universities in the country.  “We are thrilled by this news, and we are very grateful that our students have the opportunity to engage in exchanges with other cultures, since such exchanges are fundamental to the health of our civilization,” said Saint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt of Monday’s announcement.

Last April, three Saint Michael’s College seniors at that time and a 2015 graduate learned they had been awarded Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Scholarships — making this “the most successful student Fulbright Scholarship year in the school’s history,” according to Patricia Siplon, Saint Michael’s professor of political science and the College’s undergraduate fellowship coordinator for the past five years.

“I would like to acknowledge that the progress we are making on Fulbright with at least one winner for all of the last five years, after at least 20 years with none at all, is heavily reliant on Peggy Imai’s outstanding work with our Saint Michael’s College Study Abroad Program,” Siplon said, referring to the College’s director of study abroad. “And I want to extend a huge thanks to faculty members Jeff Ayres, Jon Hyde, Kimberly Sultze and Patti Delaney — all Fulbrighters themselves — who have helped to populate the campus interview committee and support students in their application process.”

The most recent Saint Michael’s Fulbright winners, named last spring and currently on their assignments, are Sophia Adams, 2018 mathematics graduate and former Student Association president from Ashland, NH, who is teaching and studying in Malaysia; Emily Byrne a 2018 Spanish and elementary education major from Armonk, NY, whose assignment is to Spain; and Emily Burns, a Spanish and French 2015 graduate from North River, NY, who is in Brazil with her Fulbright after spending time already in the past year working and studying in Latin America. Another applicant, Emma Barnes, 2018 economics and mathematics major from Amherst, WI, was initially named an alternate for a possible placement in Indonesia, but later last April was extended an invitation from the Indonesia Fulbright Commission and now is teaching there.

Siplon broke down the numbers that made this such a banner year for Fulbrights at Saint Michael’s: “We had the most student applications recommended by the school with 13, we had the most semi-finalists with four, and we had the most winners at three, with the fourth being named alternate and eventually achieving a placement as well,” she said, adding that it was noteworthy this past year “that our applicants and winners reflect a variety of majors, and both the Modern Languages Department and the Mathematics Department did particularly well in this round.”

Marie Royce, assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, on Monday released this statement about the recent list of top Fulbright-scholar-producing institutions: “We thank the colleges and universities across the United States that we are recognizing as Fulbright top producing institutions for their role in increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries,” Royce said. “We are proud of all the Fulbright students and scholars from these institutions who represent America abroad, increasing and sharing their skills and knowledge on a global stage.”

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 390,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Over 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research abroad each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program operates in over 140 countries throughout the world.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a program of the U.S. Department of State, funded by an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education.

The Fulbright Program also awards grants to U.S. scholars, teachers and faculty to conduct research and teach overseas. In addition, some 4,000 foreign Fulbright students and scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research and teach foreign languages.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit

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