WKU tied for second among Fulbright producers

Monica Kast

WKU has tied for the second highest number of Fulbright grantees among master’s degree granting institutions in 2016-2017, according to university and Fulbright officials.

According to Melinda Grimsley-Smith, coordinator of International Scholarships, WKU had eight Fulbright grantees in the master’s program for 2016-2017, the most in one year in the school’s history.

Loyola Marymout University in Los Angeles also had eight grantees, and Villanova University in Pennsylvania came in first with 11 grantees in 2016-2017, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Grimsley-Smith said grantees started applying for the Fulbright award in October of 2015, and are currently abroad working on their projects. The Fulbright award pays for an academic year abroad, which is typically nine to 12 months, according to Grimsley-Smith. There are also special grants that pay for longer periods of time abroad.

Grimsley-Smith said the Fulbright program is a “holistic selection” process, and believes that is one of the reasons WKU students have been successful.

“It is a prestigious fellowship to earn, and a prestigious name that will hopefully follow them for the rest of their lives,” Grimsley-Smith said.

Later, Grimsley-Smith added “it’s a really good reminder that our students have every right to be there on that list, and they have every right to have earned these awards.”

Meagan Skaggs graduated from WKU in 2016 with majors in English and international affairs and a minor in Latin American studies. Skaggs is now in Esquipulas, Guatemala, with the Fulbright Program.

Skaggs said she is teaching English to Guatemalan students, ages ranging from 13 to 15. Skaggs works with Guatemala teachers as well as with a local financial cooperation on social projects that also teach and use English. Skaggs said she works with these students two or three times a week.

“I feel like I’m living someone else’s life,” Skaggs said of her experience.

Skaggs arrived in Guatemala in January and will stay until November with the option to stay longer depending on grant funding. Skaggs will also attend a Fulbright conference with other grantees in the region later this year.

“It really is the experience of a lifetime,” Skaggs said.

Other grantees include 2016 graduate Brittany Broder of St. Charles, Missouri, 2015 graduate Jessica Brumley of Lawrenceburg, 2015 graduate Elizabeth Gribbins of Louisville, 2016 graduate Jarred Johnson of Somerset, 2015 graduate Bailey Mack of Louisville, 2016 graduate Tyler Prochazka of Newton, Kansas, and 2014 graduate Ryan Vennell of Chatham, Illinois, according to a press release from WKU. The awarded students are studying in England, Germany and Malaysia, as well as several other countries, according to the press release

Grimsley-Smith said that in April, the Office of Scholar Development will have Fulbright Week from April 3 to April 7. That week, faculty and students will be able to learn more about upcoming Fulbright opportunities.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at (270) 745-0655 and [email protected]