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University of Iowa breaks its Fulbright Scholars record

17 students chosen for 'life-changing opportunities'

Brittany Anderson, a doctorate candidate in anthropology at the University of Iowa, is one of 17 UI Fulbright grant winners. She plans to study in Sierra Leone how Ebola survivors navigate social, economic and medical hardships. (Photo from University of Iowa)
Brittany Anderson, a doctorate candidate in anthropology at the University of Iowa, is one of 17 UI Fulbright grant winners. She plans to study in Sierra Leone how Ebola survivors navigate social, economic and medical hardships. (Photo from University of Iowa)
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IOWA CITY — Sierra Leone, Colombia, Spain, Taiwan, Cambodia.

These are among the global destinations that will host a record number of University of Iowa students who have been awarded Fulbright Program grants for the upcoming academic term.

The 17 grant winners mark the largest-ever crop of Hawkeyes chosen under the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to conduct research, teach English, attend graduate school or embark on creative projects abroad in the 2019-2020 school year. Last year, the UI reported 11 Fulbrighters.

The grant winners are chosen based on their academic and professional achievements, leadership experience and potential and purpose statements outlining their plans for an academic year outside the United States.

UI Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs Downing Thomas said in a statement the grants “provide life-changing opportunities for UI students.”

“This record-breaking year is a testament to the hard work of our talented students and the tremendous team of faculty and staff in International Programs that has prepared them compete successfully for these prestigious awards,” Thomas said.

The Fulbright Program is an international exchange sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. It was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright, an Arkansas Democrat.

According to the program, over 390,000 students have won grants since the program began.

The organization has not yet announced winners in its U.S. Fulbright Scholars program — a separate category not for students but for faculty, administrators and experienced professionals. Last year, the UI had two U.S. Fulbright scholars.

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Universities across the country tout their Fulbright students and scholars as high achievers with visions to better the world. Karen Wachsmuth, UI Fulbright Program adviser, said in a statement this year’s winners “will represent the university, the state of Iowa, and the U.S. as superb citizen ambassadors, and will carry this badge of honor forward into their future professional lives.”

In the past five years, 61 UI students have received awards to study and work in 35 countries.

The latest UI grant winners are: Brittany Anderson, of Sparta, Wis.; Alex Bare, of Walcott; Claire Carmichael, of Oskaloosa; Jeffrey Clark, of Lorton, Va.; Sylvia Dean, of Iowa City; Alexa Frank, of Irvington, N.Y.; Nicholas Grandstaff, of Emmetsburg; Charles Green, of Los Angeles; Dani Lipman, of West Des Moines; Catherine Liu, of Tallahassee, Fla.; Jenna McCoy, of Estherville; Isabella Myers, of Iowa City; Jill Oberhart, of Bettendorf; Erik Ovrom, of Iowa City; Michael Parisi Mercado of Guayama, Puerto Rico; Jennifer Shyue, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Lydia Sinclair, of Urbandale. In addition, four UI students were picked as alternates. Grants may include travel, an allowance and insurance.

Among the grant winners, a sampling of what they plan to do:

l Anderson, a doctorate candidate in anthropology, plans to study in Sierra Leone how Ebola survivors navigate social, economic and medical hardships.

l Bare, due to graduate this year with a bachelor’s in international studies, plans to teach English in Colombia and advise university students there on how to write stories for an English-language newspaper.

l Clark, graduating this year with a bachelor’s in English and history, plans to help students in South Korea improve their English and cultural understanding — while also forming an English chorus for his students.

l And Grandstaff, set to graduate this year with a bachelor’s in economics, plans to study international development at Wageningen University in the Netherlands and research technology in the advanced Dutch food system.

“Growing up and working on a farm, I have always had a great appreciation and understanding of what it takes to produce food,” Grandstaff told UI International Programs in response to questions about his Fulbright award. “International development can’t happen without food security, so I have found my niche in applying my agricultural background and field of study toward understanding food systems.”

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