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The Daily Tar Heel

Record number of UNC Fulbright Scholars will begin work abroad

Katie Bowler Young, director of global relations for UNC Global, said the students represent diverse areas of study but have a common global consciousness.

“They have a level of global preparedness and global awareness (even though) they’re coming out of a number of academic areas,” she said. “That’s an important part of what our students are learning while they’re here at Carolina.”

She added that the students’ research contributes to UNC’s profile worldwide.

Sonya Khattak, a 2014 graduate and Fulbright scholar who plans on teaching English in Turkey this year, remembers the sense of personal accomplishment and pride she felt upon her acceptance but also said this year’s high number of recipients — five more than the 2013-14 year — is a great reflection on UNC.

“I had so many mentors that helped me in the application process that were very encouraging,” Khattak said. “So it’s not just a win for me, I felt, but for all the people who helped me along the way.”

Christopher Bowen, a doctoral student in musicology at UNC who will do archival research in the Czech Republic, also credited a strong support system for helping with his application process.

The scholars will embark on a yearlong trip to the country of their choice. Their travel fees and health insurance are fully covered by the scholarship. In addition, the grant includes a monthly stipend for living expenses.

“Really, I couldn’t do this project without some kind of grant to get me over there and look at the archives, and Fulbright allows me to do that,” Bowen said.

“There’s a support network on the ground there (in the Czech Republic) helping you with things, and the community of scholars is kind of built into the grant, so that’s all really cool.”

Tripp Tuttle, Fulbright program adviser at the Center for Global Initiatives, helps students pick countries and write their proposals and offers feedback on their applications for the award.

Tuttle said the program is selective but uses a holistic application process.

“You do not have to have a 3.95 (grade point average) to be considered for a Fulbright,” he said. “You don’t have to have had a ton of international experience for it. Sometimes, Fulbright, the big point of it is getting American students the opportunity to engage in another culture they might not otherwise have.”

Khattak said that just because you are not an education major does not mean you should ignore an opportunity to teach.

“It’s a great option to explore, to make connections with people abroad, to learn about another culture,” she said.

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