Campus News

UB notches record number of Fulbright semifinalists


Published March 10, 2017

“Our goal is to have UB become a top producer of Fulbright scholars.”
Megan Stewart, adviser
Office of Fellowships and Scholarships

UB’s fortified campaign to help students compete for the most exclusive and prestigious academic fellowships and scholarships has produced nine semifinalists for the Fulbright Scholarships, UB’s largest number ever.

The nine students — six undergraduates and three graduate students — were chosen by the Fulbright U.S. National Screening Committees. Their applications will now be passed to the host countries where the students hope to go for final selection in the coming months.

Megan Stewart, adviser in UB’s new Office of Fellowships and Scholarships, says the nine semifinalists represent a diverse group of outstanding students ranging from those interested in teaching in their host countries to those who want to use their opportunity to travel and study abroad, and conduct research.

“I am so impressed with all of the students who applied to the Fulbright this year,” Stewart says. “They dedicated a great amount of time to researching their prospective countries and essay revisions. They are all passionate about international travel and education.”

The nine semifinalists represent a milestone of sorts for UB’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships. UB created the office in the fall semester to identify more of UB’s best and brightest students, and then encourage and guide them through the application process toward these world-class fellowships and scholarships. The nine semifinalists for Fulbright Scholarships are significantly more than UB’s previous high, according to officials in the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships.

The nine UB Fulbright semifinalists, their majors, their areas of study and the countries they hope to visit are:

  • Jacob Caldwell, biomedical engineering, English teaching assistantship, Spain.
  • Lisa Gagnon, English and linguistics, English teaching assistantship, Latvia.
  • Sushmita Gelda, English, English teaching assistantship, India.
  • Ashlee Hart, anthropology, archaeology, Bulgaria.
  • Farhana Hasan, English and linguistics, English teaching assistantship, Malaysia.
  • Antara Majumdar, biomedical sciences, medical sciences, United Kingdom.
  • Sean Pears, English, creative writing, Namibia.
  • Sarah Stanford, English and psychology, English teaching assistantship, Malaysia.
  • Michael Surrett, anthropology, anthropology, Indonesia.  

Stewart and her colleagues in the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships emphasize how world-class awards like the Fulbright Scholarship can give a student with a distinguished university career national or international stature.

For many students, receiving these prestigious awards is a life-changing event, according to Elizabeth A. Colucci, director of fellowships and scholarships. Colucci’s office is dedicated to expanding the number of outstanding UB students interested in these awards, and then showing them that the highest rung of academic achievement — world-respected and lucrative academic awards such as the Fulbright Scholarship — is within their grasp.

Stewart stresses that supporting students applying for the Fulbright Scholarship and other prestigious academic awards is a collaborative effort. Colleen Culleton, a faculty member from the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, serves as UB’s Fulbright program adviser. She and Stewart work in tandem.

“We also depend on faculty from across campus who help interview students and give helpful feedback on applications,” Stewart says.

Students interested in applying for the next cycle of Fulbright awards are encouraged to reach out to the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships early by emailing and applying through UB. Deadline is Aug. 28, the first day of classes for the fall 2017 semester. UB’s Office of Fellowships and Scholarships is located in 408 Capen Hall on the North Campus.

“During the spring semester, we conduct a series of Fulbright workshops to help students prepare for the application process,” Stewart says. “More than half of our semifinalists this year participated in the workshops during the previous year.

 “Our goal is to have UB become a top producer of Fulbright scholars.”

Colucci calls the semifinalist results “very exciting to see” and evidence of the “immediate impact on our fellowship and scholarship efforts as a result of creating the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships.”

“With this new institutional office we are able to see more students, undergraduate and graduate, and provide support for students as they apply for these awards,” she says. “Our goal is to significantly increase the number of students who apply for the Fulbright program, and this is a step in the right direction.”