A (summer) Fulbright first: Rising junior studies in England

A (summer) Fulbright first: Rising junior studies in England

No Rowan student has ever landed a spot in the Fulbright Summer Institute, one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs in the world. Until now. Meet Katelyn Sullivan.

Katelyn Sullivan is upholding a Rowan University tradition…with a twist.

In the past 13 years, 16 Rowan students have landed highly coveted Fulbright Program scholarships. But no Rowan student has ever landed a spot in the Fulbright Summer Institute, one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs in the world.

Until now.

“I feel fortunate to have this opportunity—and I am going to seize it,” says Sullivan, 20, who, this summer, became the first Rowan student to land a place in the Fulbright Summer Institute, which grooms students to become leaders and scholars. “I’m hoping my experience will encourage other Rowan students to apply in the future.”

On July 12, Sullivan, a rising junior history and philosophy and religion studies major, left for four weeks of study at the University of Exeter in Great Britain.

Her first week at Exeter has included studies focusing on the environment, sustainability, and leadership. She’ll spend her final three weeks in England attending Exeter’s International Summer School, where she’ll study the Global and Imperial History pathway and take trips, including a three-day excursion to London.

That’s heady stuff for the Stratford resident, a member of Rowan’s Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Program who also carries concentrations in Asian Studies and International Studies.

“I’ve never been out of the country,” says Sullivan. “I’ve wanted to study abroad, but I didn’t have the funding. I want to become a scholar. That’s something I’m definitely striving toward.”

Sullivan is excited about four hours of lecture and a seminar each day at Exeter, which is hosting its first-ever Fulbright Summer Institute. She is joined by three other students—from Northwestern University, American University, and the University of South Florida—who also are studying at Exeter through the Fulbright Program. Author J.K. Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series, is one of Exeter’s most famous alumni.

Altogether, 61 students are attending nine institutions through the program, known as the US-UK Commission. The program was created by treaty in 1948 and is the only bi-lateral, trans-Atlantic scholarship program offering awards and summer programs for study or research in any field at any accredited university in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Rigorous selection process
Sullivan was selected through a rigorous application and interview process that included a review of her academic achievements and extracurricular activities. That was no problem for Sullivan, who carries a perfect 4.0 grade point average at Rowan. Her University involvement includes serving as vice president and senator of the Psi Iota chapter of Phil Alpha Theta, the national honor society for history majors, secretary for Rowan Original Works, a playwriting club, and involvement with the University’s equestrian team.

Additionally, in a program spearheaded by Rowan’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Sullivan began working as an intern in January at the historic James and Ann Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield Park in National Park. In addition to taking a public history course taught by Rowan’s Jennifer Janofsky, the Megan M. Giordano Public History Fellow for the site, Sullivan gave tours and also conducted research for two new exhibits focusing on midwifery and yellow fever in the area in the late 1700s.

“I love to engage people with history hands-on,” says Sullivan, who graduated fifth in her class at Sterling High School. “I love learning and sharing what I’ve learned with others.”

In Great Britain, Sullivan is the student, a position she clearly relishes.

“Until this point, I’ve only been taught by American professors in American universities,” Sullivan says. “Now, I’ll get a British perspective.

“I find it fascinating seeing patterns of how things change and stay the same. By knowing history, I’m able to understand what’s happening now. History illuminates the human condition.”

Sullivan’s study abroad experience will include explorations of Westminster Abby, Trafalgar Square, and even a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which has been recreated.

“I don’t know yet if we will be in the groundling section or the elite seats,” Sullivan says, clearly delighted.

Other excursions will include Stonehenge, Bath, St. Ives, and The Eden Project, an indoor rainforest. She’s planning to tour the Ashmolean Museum, a museum of art and architecture at the University of Oxford, on her own.

'An insatiable curiosity about the world…'
“I have an insatiable curiosity about the world, particularly about different countries,” Sullivan says.

Sullivan was the perfect fit for the Fulbright Summer Institute, says Bill Carrigan, chair of Rowan’s Department of History.

“For many years I have argued, and I still believe, that the best students at Rowan University are equal to the best students at any University,” says Carrigan.  “Kate Sullivan is great evidence to this effect.”

Sullivan, adds Rowan Fulbright Program Advisory and History Professor Corinne Blake, is a gifted student and writer, one who is both intellectually curious and extremely hardworking. The Fulbright Summer Institute experience, Blake says, “could be life changing.

“In addition to enabling her to broaden her perspectives through studying abroad and traveling in Britain, this experience will allow her to interact with a group of peers who are as interested in ideas and invested in the life of the mind as she is,” Blake adds.

While Sullivan is thrilled to be the first Rowan student to land in the Fulbright Summer Institute, she’s not averse to keeping the other University Fulbright tradition alive in the future.

“This program is designed to enable us to apply in the future for a full Fulbright scholarship,” she says. “I definitely would like to do that.”

Follow news about Sullivan’s Fulbright experience on her blog at: http://kmarysullivan.blogspot.co.uk/