While Penn made The Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Top U.S. Producers of Fulbright Students” list this year for the first time since 2008, it lagged behind 16 other universities.
University of Michigan, Northwestern University and Yale University produced the most Fulbright recipients this year, with 29, 27 and 26 recipients, respectively.
Of the 21 Penn students who received the Fulbright last year, 14 accepted the grant, which provides recipients with the opportunity to conduct research or teach English for one academic year abroad.
Penn was on par with Brown, Cornell, Princeton and Rutgers universities, all of which also had 14 recipients. Last year, only nine of the 13 Penn students who received a Fulbright accepted the grant.
“CURF is continually looking for more students to apply,” Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Director Harriet Joseph wrote in an email.
However, 2011 College graduate Zachary Schwam, who received a Fulbright grant to do research in Germany, did not find CURF helpful.
“The staff at CURF provided very little help and often did not respond to emails,” he said.
Schwam added that the reason Penn did well with Fulbright grants was because “there is a huge number of motivated students who apply and have a lot of faculty support in their respective language departments.”
2011 College graduate Jane Shim, who received a Fulbright grant to work on a creating writing project in Korea, said she did not feel “encouraged to apply” by CURF.
Shim, whose project involves writing poetry on being a Korean American, and translating her father’s poetry, decided to apply for the program because she was looking for something to do after graduation and “had a project idea.”
Self-motivation also played a part, since Shim realized that the program offered her a “really unique opportunity.”
Although she went to CURF to review her application, she said she does not think CURF played an “integral part” in getting the grant.
“I probably could have done it without them,” she said, explaining she only approached CURF since she was required to do so.
Other Fulbright recipients, though, insist that CURF was helpful in the application process.
Penn making the top producers list “had a lot to do with CURF,” 2011 College graduate Rachel Romeo, a recipient who is studying in England, wrote in an email.
CURF receives more information from past years’ winners and uses this feedback to advise the new applicants, Romeo explained, adding that “they’re incredibly knowledgeable about how to help the talented Penn applicants present themselves as best they can.”
In addition to the Fulbright recipients, two Penn students, 2011 College and Wharton graduate Kristin Hall and 2011 Nursing and Wharton graduate G.J. Melendez-Torres, received the Marshall Scholarship, which provides American students with two funded years of post-graduate study at any British university.
Seven students received a Thouron Award, which awards recipients tuition and stipends to participate in a graduate exchange program between Penn and British universities.
“We are very happy to be a top producer…because Penn students get the wonderful opportunity to use this travel study grant to further their passions,” Joseph wrote.