Written by Inayah Bashir ’20
Amad Amedy ‘19, a neuroscience and behavior major from Nashville, Tennessee, won the Fulbright Open Study/Research Award to Spain for 2019-2020 and is conducting schizophrenia research in Barcelona.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a federally funded program established by Senator J. William Fulbright after World War II to promote “international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.” It is open to graduating seniors and recent alumni from any academic background who are U.S. citizens. The Fulbright offers several types of opportunities: research, creative work, graduate study, and English teaching. Ultimately, it provides an opportunity for American graduates to engage in a cultural and academic exchange in a global community. Wesleyan students and alumni have won Fulbright grants each year, and we were named a Fulbright top-producing institution for 2019-2020.
The Open Study/Research Award requires that applicants design their own projects, which typically involves connecting with advisors at foreign universities or other institutions of higher education. Amad’s project was influenced by his experience with research at Vanderbilt University during the summer before his senior year. Amad wanted to take time off before applying to medical school so he could gain more medical research and community service experience. With the assistance of a professor from Vanderbilt, Amad found a lab in Barcelona that seemed to be the best fit for his interest because the research was familiar and he had also taken two years of Spanish during his time at Wesleyan. He is currently conducting predoctoral clinical research on schizophrenia psychopathology in an effort to better understand the disease’s progression with regards to environmental influence on psychosis.
Amad recognizes the Fulbright as “a high honor,” and he has been loving the research work, the connections he’s made, and his improvement in Spanish. Amad admits that the transition has been difficult at times, especially in the logistics of everything (finding an apartment, opening a new bank account, and handling day to day activities in an entirely different language). Yet, he states, “Spending time for personal and professional growth in another country is very rewarding. I am continuously realizing just how little I knew about the rest of the world, as I interact with people from all over the globe.” While he sometimes misses home, Amad has been able to find pleasure in the balanced lifestyle in Spain. He finds time to play soccer and make new friends. He loves the food and the connections that he has been able to make!
Here’s Amad’s advice for anyone thinking about the Fulbright in their future: “I hope more people take advantage of this program or similar opportunities. Take a chance at challenging opportunities, especially when there is no harm in trying! When applying, make sure to touch on all elements of the essay questions thoroughly and concisely, while also highlighting your strengths. Most importantly, be yourself in these applications. I believe my application was a success because of how passionate and excited I was for the opportunity to do something I love. Even though I did not feel like the smartest student in any given room or the most incredible writer, I dedicated careful planning and my best effort into the application, and I was successful! Your passion is what can make your application stand out. I hope my Fulbright story inspires you to pursue challenges and achieve your goals too!”