This year’s pool of potential Fulbright fellowship nominees are talented and diverse.
The fact that there are enough nominees to even be considered a pool is a marked improvement for Central Michigan University’s National Scholarship Program, which is young and still lacking permanent funding. Four candidates have earned the nomination of the university this year – twice the number nominated last year.
“One of the goals of the NSP is to help change the culture of the institution, where we see ourselves as the kind of university that should routinely be nominating and winning national awards,” said Phame Camarena, director of the Honors Program and NSP.
The Fulbright Program is, according to its website, funded by the U.S. State Department. Recipients of the award travel to the country to which they have been accepted and teach, conduct research or both, with all expenses paid by the federal government. The website said the program’s purpose is to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.”
This year’s nominees include Megan Bauerle, a Mount Pleasant senior applying to the United Kingdom; Kevin Hall, a CMU graduate student from Caro, applying to Germany; Darnell Gardner Jr., a Detroit senior, applying to Taiwan; and Eric Thornton, a senior from Tawas, applying to Finland. (Editor’s note: Gardner is a staff columnist for Central Michigan Life.)
Especially remarkable about these nominees, said NSP Coordinator Anne Miller, is that every one of them comes from a different field.
“There are four really different students from four really different backgrounds, and it just happened that way. We didn’t hand-select them (only) because they’re from different fields, but I think they all have a very, very good chance,” Miller said.
Bauerle, for example, wants to study dental bioarchaeology. However, just because she applied does not mean she will be given funding: only one student per year from the U.S. is offered funding through the Fulbright Program, she said.
The United Kingdom appealed to Bauerle because she studied there previously. She said she liked the culture and the people.
Gardner, a journalism and political science major who wants to go into diplomacy, said what draws him to China is the country’s enormous capacity for growth and development.
“Right now, people who are interested in China can watch a country coming into its own economically, politically and socially,” he said.
There are multiple rounds to securing a Fulbright award, and receiving the nomination of the university is only the first step. Bauerle and Gardner both said they would find out if they made it to the next round by the end of January.
Hall and Thornton, who were not available for comment, are students of entirely different disciplines.
Hall, according to the news release written by Miller, is studying history and German and aspires to be a professor and explore his German heritage.
The same release cites Thornton as a fine arts major who is applying for a Fulbright fellowship to “study ceramics in an industrial context and learn commercial fabrication techniques and methodology.”
The NSP is a temporary service provided by the Honors office, but Camarena said the program will soon seek permanent funding.
Camarena emphasized that although Honors students often stand out in applications, the NSP is not exclusive to Honors students. Out of this year’s Fulbright nominees, he said, only half are or were Honors students.
“…We’ve got great students across campus, and especially for something like international service, you can see where we might draw all kinds of top students from different kinds of programs,” he said.