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Penn was not included on the list of Fulbright Scholar “top producers” for this school year, but not because Quaker candidates are unqualified.

The University’s absence on the ranking — administered by the Institute of International Education — is a result of unusual circumstances, according to Associate Director of Fellowships Cheryl Shipman. Though 13 scholars were granted the fellowship last year, four declined for various personal reasons. Penn would have been among the top producers if these students had all accepted their grants.

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships also assisted four alumni recipients who were not included in the national statistics because they applied “at-large.”

Shipman said “being on the list itself doesn’t make a difference” to CURF. What matters to the organization, she said, is that students are aware of fellowships.

The Fulbright is “great,” Shipman explained, because it’s in the reach of almost anybody who is willing to think of a concrete project. She promotes the fellowship widely at various fairs and undergraduate department events. Shipman also talks to advisors and sends e-mails in the spring to juniors and seniors in the top half of their class.

College alumnus and current Fulbright scholar Cameron Hu learned about the Fulbright during a Benjamin Franklin Scholars Program advising session his freshman year.

“Penn has an encouraging atmosphere for fellowships,” he said. “They reminded me repeatedly to apply.”

Monisha Chakravarthy, a College alumnus and current Fulbright scholar studying the evolution of dance in India, said she found out about the Fulbright from a panel she attended. She also said that once she decided to apply, CURF took time to look at her essays even though they had a “very heavy load.”

The earlier students submit ideas to Shipman and her associates, the more help they can provide. “If you wait until fall, it’s hard to have any application, much less a good one,” she said, adding that ideally, students build their ideas during the spring.

This fall, 89 Penn students applied for the Fulbright — the highest number since 2006.

“I would be overwhelmed with work, but really happy if 200 students applied to Fulbright,” Shipman said. “I actually think that’s possible.”

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