We're among the "Bright"est.
For the first time, Rowan University has been named a "Top Producer" of U.S. Fulbright students, making it one of the nation's leading institutions participating in the prestigious scholarship program.
Rowan, which has had 11 students win Fulbright scholarships between 2000 and 2011, has three recent graduates in the program this year. Those students, Mary Spanarkel, Simone Miliaresis and Melissa Genovese, are spending the school year teaching English in Turkey, Cyprus and Vietnam, respectively.
“I’m extraordinarily proud,” said Dr. Corinne Blake, a Rowan associate professor of history who has been the university’s Fulbright program advisor since 1999.
The highly competitive Fulbright program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of State, was created in 1946 to foster greater understanding between Americans and people of foreign lands.
Genovese said many, if not most, of her Vietnamese students had never met an American before they met her.
“As far as I know I am the only American in my city,” said Genovese, whose nine-month assignment has her teaching at Nam Dinh University of Technology Education, about 75 miles southeast of Hanoi. "Fulbright has allowed me to create a cultural exchange with my students and co-workers that I believe will one day help break down the boundaries between the U.S. and Vietnam."
A famously difficult achievement, Fulbright scholarship offers are made to about 1,700 American students, artists and young professionals each year, roughly 19% of them at the Ph.D. level, 17% at the Master’s degree level, and 65% at the Bachelor’s degree level. Spanarkel, Miliaresis and Genovese hold Bachelor’s degrees from Rowan and all are considering careers in education.
Blake, who won a Fulbright scholarship to Israel in 1980 following graduation from the University of California, Berkeley, said the experience can be life changing.
“In this type of economy, especially, it’s the type of experience that helps students stand out for graduate school applications, jobs in teaching, or any other profession,” she said.