For the eighth year in a row, Vassar is among the national leaders in producing winners of the prestigious Fulbright Fellowships. Funded by Congress through the State Department‘s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Fulbright fellows spend a year in one of more than 150 countries, either teaching or attending graduate programs.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Vassar has been one of the top 10 colleges in the country in producing Fulbright winners every year since 2007-08. Lisa Kooperman, assistant dean of fellowships and pre-health advising, says Vassar’s success stems from its strong language programs, staff and faculty involvement in the application process, and the college’s rigorous and in-depth approach to academics.
“Fulbright fellowships aren’t awarded on the basis of grades alone but on a student’s proficiency in a specific area of expertise, and Vassar prepares them well,” Kooperman says. “Many students who do senior theses use them as a springboard to graduate research programs, and Vassar students are widely viewed as good ambassadors for the United States.”
Kooperman says the college’s extensive Junior Year Abroad program helps many students familiarize themselves with study opportunities overseas, prompting them to pursue post-graduate programs such as Fulbright fellowships. She adds many foreign language majors at Vassar volunteer in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs in the Poughkeepsie City School District, “and that gives them a jump start on this kind of teaching.”
This year, seven recent Vassar graduates were chosen as Fulbright Scholars, and six of them accepted the fellowships. They are (in order of appearance):
Ilse Heine ’15 will be teaching at a school in Berlin.
Nicholas Hoffman ’14 will pursue a master’s degree in Medieval Icelandic Studies at the University of Iceland. He plans to pursue a PhD in Anglo-Saxon and Norse literature;
Luke Kachelein ’15 will study for a master’s degree in photonics, a subfield of physics, at the Abbe School of Photonics at Friedrich-Schiller Universitat in Jena, Germany;
Lorraine Kwok ’15 will study vaccination rates and other issues pertaining to women’s health and preventative care policies in Hong Kong;
Zoe Ripecky ’14 will study energy reform policies in Ukraine as the country pursues energy independence. She will be working with two organizations in Ukraine that are advocating alternative energy policies;
Nathan Tauger ’14 will study the history of British health policy at the University of Manchester’s Center for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine in Manchester, England. Tauger plans to work in the public health field and eventually pursue a doctoral degree.