All About Wesleyan’s 2019-2020 Fulbright and Watson Fellowship Applicants

Written by Inayah Bashir ‘20 and Magdalena Zapędowska

National fellowships are prestigious, merit-based awards that provide full funding for students and recent alumni to pursue experiences such as international travel, independent research, graduate study in the U.S. or abroad, and English language teaching outside the U.S. The two biggest programs open to Wesleyan applicants are Fulbright and Watson, both of which had campus deadlines in early fall. This fall thirty-three seniors and recent alumni applied for Fulbright grants. Sixteen seniors applied for the Watson Fellowship; four of them were nominated for the national competition. The applicants’ proposed projects reflect the diversity of interests and passions within our community.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program that offers research, creative work, graduate study, and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to graduating seniors and alumni within about six years of graduation who are U.S. citizens. There is no limit on the number of applicants Wesleyan may nominate.

The English Teaching Assistant Program places grantees in English language classrooms around the world to support local teachers for a full academic year. This year fourteen Wesleyan seniors and alumni applied to teach in Africa (Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal), the Middle East (Israel, Palestinian Territories), Latin America (Mexico), East and Southeast Asia (Taiwan, Indonesia), and Europe (Bulgaria, Italy, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain).

The Study/Research Program allows grantees to pursue a year of independent research, creative work, or graduate study in any discipline. Applicants who want to conduct research or pursue creative work design their own projects and secure an affiliation with a university or another institution of higher education. We had eight applicants for the research grants; they plan to focus on the fields of Anthropology, Psychology, Film/Cinema Studies, Journalism, Public Health, Neuroscience, and the Medical Sciences in countries such as China, India, Israel, Kenya, Morocco, Paraguay, and Turkey. The two applicants for the Creative and Performing Arts grants have proposed Creative Writing and Theater Directing projects in South Korea and Sri Lanka. Our eight applicants for the graduate study grants represent a wide range of disciplines as well: Dance, Literature, Linguistics, History, Sociology, Criminology, Biology, and Physics. Finally, one person applied for a special Fulbright program to Mexico, a Binational Internship in Business.

The Thomas J. Watson Fellowship is a one-year grant for purposeful, independent exploration outside of the United States. This fellowship is open to graduating seniors of all academic backgrounds and citizenships who are nominated by one of the 40 participating colleges. The Watson encourages students to engage with their deepest interests on a global scale. Fellows develop original projects and embark on a year-long journey of personal insight. Each year Wesleyan may nominate four candidates.

The Class of 2020 Watson Nominees, selected out of the sixteen applicants, are Inayah Bashir, Kiara Benn, Maya Bernstein-Schalet, and Luka (Luke) Lezhanskyy. Inayah, who is a College of Social Studies major, plans to explore African spiritualities and how they can support the mental and spiritual wellbeing of communities. Kiara, a Dance and Psychology double major, wants to study the ways in which dance allows people of color to write their own histories. Maya, who is majoring in Cultural Anthropology, wants to learn about the impact of U.S. military bases on local communities around the world. Luke, an English major, plans to study independence movements.

We congratulate our Fulbright and Watson applicants on completing the application process and wish them success in the national competitions. Students and recent alumni who are interested in these opportunities should contact Dr. Magdalena Zapędowska, Assistant Director of Fellowships, to start planning their applications.

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