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UW-Eau Claire again among top producers of prestigious Fulbrights

| Judy Berthiaume

Photo caption: Blugold Kaitlyn Zenner is currently working as English teaching assistant in Spain through the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program. She is one of three UW-Eau Claire alumni currently teaching abroad through the program. (Submitted photo)

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is again among the top master’s universities in the nation for the number of students who receive Fulbright grants through the U.S. Department of State’s international educational exchange program.

UW-Eau Claire is on the 2022-23 Fulbright top producer list for the sixth time in 10 years. This year, three Blugolds were awarded Fulbrights, once again earning the university a spot on the top producers list for master’s-level institutions.

“It’s an honor that year after year, this prestigious and highly competitive program selects Blugolds to join them in their work to build connections and understanding between people in the U.S. and those in other parts of the world,” Chancellor James Schmidt says. “Our students and graduates tend to be curious about and engaged in the world around them, something the Fulbright Program clearly recognizes.”

The Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Colleen Marchwick, director of UW-Eau Claire’s Center for International Education, says university faculty and staff recognize the incredible opportunities the Fulbright Program offers, so they work closely with students who are interested in applying. That includes everything from ensuring students have the knowledge and experiences that will help them stand out in the competitive program, as well as offering guidance and letters of support as they go through the application process, she says.

“Our students clearly are extraordinary, but so, too, are the faculty and staff who teach, mentor and support them in so many meaningful ways,” Marchwick says.

Greta Wiederhold, one of three UW-Eau Claire alumni who are currently teaching abroad through the Fulbright Program, agrees, saying she was in high school when she learned about the program from a professor during a campus visit.

“I met with Dr. Josh Brown, a German professor, who told me about the Fulbright program, focusing on the large number of Blugolds who get accepted and the benefits of the program for a German major,” Wiederhold says. “This conversation inspired me to want to apply to the program. So, before I even graduated high school, it was my dream to do the Fulbright in Germany. I'm so grateful to have had lots of support at UWEC to help me achieve this goal.”

Wiederhold, who graduated in May 2022 with a German education major, a teaching of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) minor and an interdisciplinary linguistics certificate, is participating in the English Teaching Assistant Fulbright in Germany during the 2022-23 academic year.

Natalie Lasinski, who graduated in December 2021 with majors in psychology-behavior analysis and Spanish-liberal arts and a certificate in Latin American studies; and Kaitlyn Zenner, who graduated in May 2022 with majors in Spanish and psychology and a minor in neuroscience, are teaching in Spain during this academic year after receiving Fulbright English Teaching assistantships.

Four Blugolds — three current students and one recent graduate — are semifinalists for the 2023-2024 program. They are Alyssa Huelsbeck, who graduated in May 2022 with degrees in biochemistry/molecular biology and Spanish; Madalyn McCabe, who will graduate in May with French and teaching broadfield social studies, political science and history emphasis majors and a European studies minor; Joshua Benning, who will graduate in May with teaching German and elementary-middle education majors and a Spanish education minor; and Grace Dombrow, who will graduate in May with Spanish and psychology-behavior analysis majors.

The Fulbright Program’s top-producing universities were announced Feb. 10 on the Fulbright website and published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.