SUNY Oswego Named a Top Producer of Fulbright U.S. Student Awards

SUNY Oswego recently was named a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Students awards. One of the recipients, Michael Kaefer (seated in front) poses with his students and other teachers from Alice-Salomon-Schule in Linz am Rhein, Neuwied District, Germany, on a field trip to see the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

OSWEGO — The Fulbright Program recently named SUNY Oswego to its 2018-19 list of top producers of successful applicants for Fulbright U.S. Student awards — recognition that the college’s advisor for such fellowships called “tremendously valuable.”

SUNY Oswego has a school record of three current Fulbright U.S. Students who applied directly through advisor Lyn Blanchfield and the college’s Fulbright committee. Two other former Oswego students applied independently and earned the prestigious scholarships, which seek to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and of other countries.

Each year, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announces the top producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes the lists annually.

“It’s tremendously valuable for us as a college to be recognized, not only for the work our Fulbright committee does, but for our students,” said Blanchfield, a member of SUNY Oswego’s history faculty. “I think we have phenomenal students. This encourages more students to think deeply and proactively about their futures.”

Following a demanding application process, SUNY Oswego students who achieved Fulbright U.S. Student awards are Michael Kaefer and Christopher Byrne, who serve as teaching assistants in Germany, and Michelle Tomei, teaching English in Romania.

Two former Oswego students, both independent applicants, also achieved 2018-19 Fulbright U.S. Student awards: 2016 alumna Kimberlyn Bailey, conducting research in Germany, and Katie Sullivan, class of 2015, teaching English in Malaysia. Blanchfield did provide substantial advice and assistance at Bailey’s request last summer.

For more on each of these Fulbright honorees, visit oswego.edu/news/story/suny-oswego-has-record-year-fulbright-us-student-honors.

‘Life changing’

Oswego’s honorees are among more than 1,900 U.S. citizens who are conducting research, teaching English and providing expertise abroad this academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Candidates are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, record of service and leadership potential in their respective fields.

With the application process in full swing for the next round of awards, SUNY Oswego has two Fulbright U.S. Student applicants, one of whom, Naomi Rodriguez Jose, has been selected as a semifinalist for 2019-20 for an English teaching assistantship in Brazil, Blanchfield said. Recipients will be notified in March or April.

“For me, it’s not so much the numbers, but keeping the message alive on campus about the opportunities that a Fulbright provides,” Blanchfield said. “For me, it was life changing.”

Blanchfield earned a Fulbright in 1993-94 to work on her dissertation in Florence, Italy.

“I didn’t think I could get a Fulbright,” she said. “My advisor said, ‘Yes, you can do this.’ … The mission of Fulbright is something I embrace completely. I’ve made it a part of my job here to build relationships in as many departments on campus as I can, as well as to make connections with the college’s Institute for Global Engagement. I want to get the word out even more.”

Besides the students who applied for the 2018-19 Fulbright U.S. Student Program, Blanchfield credited SUNY Oswego professors and advisors for recommending and helping prepare them. The college’s 2018-19 Fulbright committee consisted of Blanchfield and Murat Yasar, both of history; Marcia Burrell and Joanne O’Toole, both of curriculum and instruction; Ben Ogwo of career and technical educator preparation; Evelyn Clark Benavides of sociology; Kathleen Blake of anthropology; Jerome Oberst of the Office of Admissions; Rachel Lee of atmospheric and geological sciences; Maria Sagot of biological sciences; and Lyudmyla Ardan (Sonchak) of economics.

The only other SUNY college on the Fulbright U.S. Students list for master’s degree granting institutions is Geneseo.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is funded by an annual appropriation from Congress to the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and supported in its implementation by the Institute of International Education.

For more information on the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, visit https://exchanges.state.gov/us/program/fulbright-us-scholar-program. To learn more about all Fulbright Program opportunities, visit eca.state.gov/Fulbright.