The Fulbright Program awarded 12 university students and recent graduates grants for the 2015-16 academic year to conduct research, study or teach abroad, as well as immerse themselves in an international community, said Leslie Brice, this university’s National Scholarships Office coordinator.

The recipients — who include five seniors, two graduate students and five recent alumnae — will be traveling to nine different countries to either explore educational developments in their respective fields or teach English at schools and universities, according to a university news release from May 7.

The Fulbright grant program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program and is open to undergraduate seniors, graduate students and recent alumni, according to the news release. The program awards about 8,000 grants each year, with about 1,600 of them going to U.S. students.

“Generally, [the students who apply] have shown an interest in international work and would benefit from that kind of cross-cultural engagement,” said Brice, who advises graduate students applying for Fulbright grants. “A lot of them will have international experience or are studying the host country’s language.”

Lindsey Benjamin, who is one of the 2015-16 Fulbright scholarship recipients, will be using her grant to study in Madrid. She said she applied for this grant because she wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to both learn and teach in Spanish.

“Last spring semester, I studied abroad in Seville and gained a love for Spanish language and culture,” the senior psychology major said. “The Fulbright teaching assistantship in Madrid seemed to provide me with the perfect way to fuse my passions for education and Spanish culture.”

The scholarships office works with applicants starting in late spring or early summer of each year in order to meet this university’s deadline in early September, Brice said.

She added those doing the study-research track must meet with a faculty committee for feedback on their proposal, which includes what they'd be researching or teaching in the foreign country of their choice and why they're passionate about it.

Afterward, the office submits the students’ proposals to their prospective host countries in mid-October, at which point the decision is up to officials in those countries.

“A good application takes effort and passion,” said Francis DuVinage, the scholarships office's director, who assists undergraduates during the application process. “[Students] have to be willing to work hard and to care, and then they can be very competitive.”

In the past six years, this university’s scholarships office has been working extensively to promote the Fulbright program, Brice said. In the past five years, the Fulbright Program has awarded Fulbright grants to 72 students and alumni from this university, according to the news release.

Multiple students applied for this year’s grant, including Adam Lax, a second-year graduate student studying international education policy. Lax is furthering his university studies in China and will be teaching English and researching the language’s importance for young children in a local Chinese community.

“I taught English in China for three years before I entered into the international education policy program,” he said. “While teaching there I was really exposed to how important it is to learn English in China. I wanted to explore that more in-depth through the Fulbright research grant.”

Lax said he is also excited to meet other Chinese scholars who are interested in his work and to improve and further immerse himself in the local language and culture.

Another Fulbright recipient, Emily Cheung, said she is also eager to further her Chinese language skills through working with students in Taiwan.

“I’m interested in how learning a second language is different, especially in children,” the senior Chinese and psychology major said. “[I will be] applying everything I’ve learned at Maryland to real-world scenarios, where I’m actually speaking the language and immersed in the culture while interacting with students.”

The full list of scholars:

  • 2011 alumna Natalie Baur, Mexico
  • Senior psychology major Lindsey Benjamin, Spain
  • 2014 alumna Laura Brady, Germany
  • Senior Chinese and psychology major Emily Cheung, Taiwan
  • 2014 alumnaJulia Connell, Turkey
  • Graduate student Amanda Hemmer, Denmark
  • Senior Chinese major Brittany Lashley, Taiwan
  • Graduate student Adam Lax, China
  • Senior chemistry majorBrandon Ng, Israel
  • Scheherazade "Zadie" Oleksiw, India
  • 2014 alumnaSarah Sexton, Germany
  • Senior bioengineering major Michael Sikorski, Spain