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Another UW-Eau Claire Graduate Receives Fulbright Award

RELEASED: Aug. 1, 2006

Justin Van Ness
Justin Van Ness

EAU CLAIRE — Another recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire has been awarded a scholarship to study and teach abroad through the prestigious Fulbright Student Program.

Justin Van Ness, Oshkosh, who graduated in December 2005 with a double major in political science and Spanish, said he was "ecstatic and really surprised" when he was notified that he was approved to do research and teach in Madrid and the suburb of Alcorcón beginning this fall. Van Ness will be a teaching assistant for middle school classes in Spanish history, music and science. All the classes will be taught in English.

"In addition, I will be doing a research project that analyzes Spain's human rights perspective and its roots in Spanish history, culture and situation in international society," said Van Ness. "Most importantly, however, I'll be trying hard to engage in the community — joining clubs and the like … I plan to do the best I can in fulfilling the Fulbright mission of fostering cross-cultural understanding and friendship."

Dr. Steven Majstorovic, associate professor of political science and one of Van Ness's teachers, described Van Ness as a non-assuming and humble student who quietly pursued his goals without fanfare.

"Justin was one of our most outstanding students who certainly exemplified UW-Eau Claire's model of excellence," said Majstorovic. "Justin's central interest in graduate school and in his Fulbright award is in furtherance of intercultural understanding and peace studies."

Van Ness studied in Valladolid, Spain, in 2004 through UW-Eau Claire's study abroad program. He cited that as one of his favorite experiences while at UW-Eau Claire, along with being a student mentor for a number of political science classes and interning for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education during the summer of 2005.

"I really loved being a student mentor, but research and writing have always been my favorite things, so I jumped at the opportunity to mix the two — teaching and writing," Van Ness said.

Dr. Analisa DeGrave, an assistant professor of foreign languages at UW-Eau Claire, called Van Ness "a worthy recipient of the Fullbright Scholarship."

"He is a gifted and thoughtful student with a profound sense of justice and humanity," De Grave said. "In the classroom, it was clear that he takes learning, knowledge and communication very seriously and that these concepts have a real impact in the world in which he lives and seeks to improve."

Cheryl Lochner-Wright, a study abroad coordinator in the Center for International Education, said this year has been a banner year for UW-Eau Claire graduates seeking Fulbright Awards. She said that three students who went through the application process while on campus, including Van Ness, plus one who graduated and then applied while "at-large," were all accepted this year. The other students were Jenna Cushing-Leubner, Amanda Hill and Trever Hagen.

"And that is by far the most for one year — we've never had more than one before," Lochner-Wright said.

Van Ness is one of more than 1,200 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2006-07 academic year through the Fulbright Student Program. Established in 1946, the program operates in more than 150 countries with the aim of building mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the rest of the world. It is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, administered by the Institute of International Education, and is a highly competitive national award. With eight Fulbright grant recipients since the year 2000, UW-Eau Claire has had more successful Fulbright applicants than any other UW-System master's level institution.

Further information is available on the U.S. Department of State Web site, or by contacting Heidi Manley, Office of Academic Exchange Program, 202-453-8534 or academic@state.gov.

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