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UW-Eau Claire again among top producers of Fulbright students

| Julie Poquette

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is again among the top U.S. master’s universities when it comes to its number of students who receive prestigious Fulbright awards.

The U.S. Department of State today announced the U.S. colleges and universities that produce the most Fulbright grant winners, and the list was posted by The Chronicle of Higher Education. UW-Eau Claire tied for 15th among all public and private institutions in the country that offer master’s degrees. UW-Eau Claire broke into the top 15 for the first time last year.

“This is such exciting news, and such an illustration of the high standards UW-Eau Claire students pursue in and out of the classroom,” said Cheryl Lochner-Wright, UW-Eau Claire’s Fulbright U.S. Student Program adviser since 1997. “Our three 2016-17 Fulbright students excelled academically, were involved on campus and gave back to the community — and they will continue to pursue excellence during their Fulbright terms. In total, we had nine Fulbright applicants for 2016-17, and they all exhibited these characteristics.”

The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. Every year, approximately 1,900 students in all fields of study are offered Fulbright U.S. Student Program grants. The grants offer the students the chance to study, conduct research or teach English in another country.

In addition to UW-Eau Claire's three students who received Fulbright awards in 2016-17, two more students are semifinalists for 2017-18. Since 1972, UW-Eau Claire has produced 35 Fulbright students — with 17 of those receiving awards over the past 10 years. That’s an impressive number compared to other universities in the region.

"Over the past 10 years, UW-Eau Claire has had more than double the number of Fulbright students from any other master's-level public university in Wisconsin or Minnesota," Lochner-Wright said.

That success is a testament to UW-Eau Claire’s commitment to providing students with a world-class education, said Chancellor James Schmidt.

“Our rate of success in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program speaks to the priority we place on ensuring our students engage in high-impact learning as undergraduates,” Schmidt said. “We challenge our students to study abroad, to engage in cultural immersion and other hands-on experiences, and to set audacious goals. It’s all a part of our mission to provide students the foundation to become active citizens and lifelong learners.”

When discussing UW-Eau Claire students’ success in the Fulbright process, Lochner-Wright credits both the students and her colleagues on the campus Fulbright committee, Dr. Maria DaCosta, professor of economics; Dr. David Lonzarich, professor of biology; and Dr. Jeff Vahlbusch, director of UW-Eau Claire’s Honors Program.

Lochner-Wright noted that study abroad is not a prerequisite for receiving a Fulbright student award, and that students from all academic majors are eligible to apply.

“The Fulbright process is very competitive, and of course, we celebrate with those who are ultimately awarded grants,” Lochner-Wright said. “But the application process itself is valuable for all who apply. The campus Fulbright committee provides guidance that not only helps students create a strong Fulbright application, but prepares them for other competitive processes, whether in their chosen careers or in pursuing graduate education.”

A complete list of Fulbright recipients is available on the U.S. Fulbright Student Program website.

Photo cutline: Joel Newman, a University Honors Program participant from Red Wing, Minnesota, was the 33rd Blugold to be awarded a Fulbright.