Rowan juniors study abroad in highly selective Fulbright Summer Institute programs

Rowan juniors study abroad in highly selective Fulbright Summer Institute programs


Two Rowan University students studied abroad this summer through the Fulbright Summer Institute, one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs in the world.

Rising juniors Amy Ribinsky and Rachel Barton, both students enrolled in the Thomas N. Bantivoglio Honors Concentration, were among just 60 undergraduates worldwide chosen for the institute, which includes rigorous academics and enriching cultural experiences.

Ribinsky spent three weeks from July 21-August 12 in Scotland at the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow School of Art. Barton’s studies in Great Britain at the University of Sussex ran June 17-July 15.

Open to rising college juniors and seniors, the Fulbright Summer Institute includes a highly competitive application and interview process. Students are chosen based on academic excellence, their application and essay, extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, and an interest in furthering interest in the Fulbright Program upon their return to their host country, according to Fulbright officials.

The Summer Institute is presented by the US-UK Fulbright Commission and is the only bilateral transatlantic scholarship program that offers awards and summer programs for study or research in any field at any accredited university in the US or the UK. The commission is part of the Fulbright program developed after World War II to promote leadership, learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange.

Fulbright Summer Institutes cover all participation costs for all participants.

About Amy Ribinsky

A rising junior communication studies major from Medford, Ribinsky also holds minors in French and international studies and business administration. She is a former resident assistant with Rowan’s Office of Residential Learning and Student Housing.

In Scotland, Ribinsky, who is half Scottish, studied in a program titled “Scotland: Technology, Innovation and Creativity,” which provided a unique perspective on the cultural and political forces that have shaped modern Scotland, with a strong emphasis on the country’s pioneering role as a technological nation, according to Fulbright officials.

Ribinsky, who is half Scottish, relished the opportunity to study abroad. She attended the institute with students from across the nation, including those from Notre Dame, the University of Southern California, and Butler and Villanova universities, among others.

She studied the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a Scottish architect, artist and designer.

“My great grandparents immigrated to the United States from Scotland 80 years ago,” says Ribinsky, who also hosts a show on Rowan Radio 89.7 WGLS-FM. “I’ve always been incredibly interested in other cultures. I viewed this as a great opportunity to learn and meet new people. I was surrounded by diverse, passionate and driven individuals who helped me learn more about myself.

“The Technology, Innovation and Creativity program at the University of Strathclyde stressed the importance of ‘useful learning,’ of recognizing history and culture and how they have shaped the world—and using that knowledge in order to create a better and more sustainable future,” Ribinsky continues. “It was a transformative experience for me.”

Her time in Scotland now complete, Ribinsky has about a month at home before she prepares to study abroad in Paris for the fall semester. She’ll attend classes at the Institute Catholique de Paris, where four of her five classes will be taught entirely in French.

She credits Lee Talley, dean of the Bantivoglio Honors Concentration, and Corinne Blake, professor of history and Fulbright Program adviser, with helping her refine her Fulbright application.

“The mentorship I received from them was critical,” she says. “I could not have done it without them.”

About Rachel Barton

Barton, of Mount Ephraim, is an English and writing arts major with a concentration in women’s and gender studies.  She was drawn to the four-week institute in Great Britain in part because of her love of British literature, particularly children’s literature.

“Literature has always been a major part of my life,” says Barton. “Recently, I’ve become interested in the messages we give our children. So much of what they learn comes from media, but a large part comes from children’s literature.

“I’m interested in what goes on when you read your child to sleep at night. Studying children’s literature gave me the chance to formally study and discuss those ideas.”

Barton’s coursework included works such as Oliver Twist, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Peter Pan.

“With Peter Pan, we focused on voice and how it is inconsistent throughout the story. From there, we discussed the politics of children’s literature and how, really, children are secondary to the process,” says Barton, an admissions ambassador at Rowan who also is senior editor of Avant, the campus literary magazine. Additionally, she’s co-editor of Rowan’s chapter of HerCampus online and is a BLAST (Bantivoglio Leadership and Service Training) mentor in the Honors program.

Professors Talley and Blake provided perfect guidance to navigate the Fulbright process, Barton says.

“Whether it was reading through my essays or helping me prepare for the interview, they were both very helpful,” says Barton. “I honestly don’t think I would have received the Fulbright without their help.”