It Takes a Village
Stony Brook students flourish in the Fulbright competition thanks to expert guidance from a dedicated committee of advisors and mentors
Earlier this summer, eight Stony Brook University students were recognized by the Department of State’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program, a highly competitive scholarship opportunity that provides funding for American students to conduct research or teach English in more than 140 countries overseas. These awards, for the 2021-2022 academic year, further Stony Brook’s position as one of the top producers of Fulbright recipients in the country.
In February, The Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2020-21 named SBU as one of the top Fulbright producers for the first time ever — one of only two State University of New York (SUNY) institutions recognized this year. That year, 10 SBU students received the grant to go abroad to further their studies and/or research.
The Chronicle’s’ list, which recognizes doctoral institutions whose students have won the most Fulbright awards, is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Of the 600-plus institutions that regularly participate in this competition, only 58 made the 20-21 list, including one other SUNY institution, Geneseo.
“Stony Brook has been steadily growing its Fulbright advising program over the past several years,” said Eric Wertheimer, dean of the Graduate School. “This investment has led to significant growth in the number of SBU undergraduates, graduate students and alumni applying for these prestigious overseas opportunities.”
In essence, it took a campus “village” to make this happen, said Jen Green, director of Fellowships Advising and Professional Development for the Graduate School, “recognizing countless faculty, staff and previous Fulbright recipients who gave of their time to support and guide the applicants.”
She added, “We have always focused on the intrinsic value of the application process for its own sake, regardless of outcome, because it provides students with critical professional development skills.”
The process for students includes attending Green’s Fulbright summer boot camp, where she walks them through the entire applications with a focus on the two application essays. The SBU Writing Center offers additional support by ensuring that applicants are connected to peer writer-tutors who help them focus and revise their personal statements and statements of grant purpose. SBU’s Fulbright Campus Committee interviews every candidate and offers feedback to strengthen their proposals before final submission, another component in the Fulbright application process.
“This year’s group of applicants was especially remarkable in how they came together to support each other as a cohort. 2020 was a year of uncertainty for all of us and it was this sense of community and common purpose that got all 54 of SBU’s applicants over the finish line,” added Green. “While I am thrilled for the recipients, I am so proud of our applicants’ engagement with the process overall, and many who weren’t ultimately selected for Fulbright leveraged what they learned about proposal writing to successfully apply for other opportunities.”
The 2021 Stony Brook University Fulbright Recipients and the countries they will be working in:
Fulbright Research Award
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award
Esposito, Incardona and Haynes Bustos are the first-ever recipients of English Teaching Assistant Awards to their respective countries.