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St. Olaf among top producers of Fulbright students

This year marks a milestone for the Fulbright Program as it celebrates its Fulbright 75th Anniversary.

St. Olaf College remains one of the top producers of Fulbright U.S. Scholars and Fulbright U.S. Students in the nation.

For the 2020-21 academic year, St. Olaf tied for 8th among baccalaureate institutions for the number of Fulbrights awarded. Those from St. Olaf who were offered Fulbrights include one U.S. Scholar and nine U.S. Students including:

  • Alden Bostwick ’20 music major | English Teaching Award to Czech Republic
  • Kristina Butler ’19 music and Spanish major | Arts Research to Ecuador
  • Peder Ericson ’19 English major; English teaching license | English Teaching Award to India
  • Jose Gomez-Romero ’20 social-studies education major; social studies teaching license | English Teaching Award to Thailand
  • Henry Henson ’20 biology and environmental studies major | Study to Denmark/Greenland
  • Neetij Krishnan ’20 biology major | Research to Spain
  • Jenna Richter ’20 biology major | Research to India
    Melaine Thompson ’19 individual major and Asian Studies major | Research to Taiwan
  • JameSee Yang ’19 theater major; theater teaching license | English Teaching Award to Indonesia
Melanie Thompson ’19, pictured here delivering a CURI research project in 2018, is currently on her Fulbright to Taiwan.

Each year the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announces the list of U.S. higher education institutions that produced the highest numbers of Fulbright U.S. Scholars and U.S. Students. The Chronicle of Higher Education publishes the lists annually.

The Fulbright programs are highly competitive and award a limited number of grants each year “to support academic exchanges between the United States and over 150 countries around the world.”

Across the nation, nearly 600 higher-education institutions are active participants in the Fulbright programs.

Though the 2020-21 academic year presented challenges regarding the number of students who were able to accept or pursue their Fulbrights on schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fulbright says “the 2020-2021 Top Producing data reflects the total number of awards offered, rather than the number of awards accepted as has been the criteria in past years.”

Jose Gomez-Romero ’20 began his ETA in Thailand earlier this year, in 2021.

“This has certainly been a challenging year for Fulbright,” says Associate Professor of Education Heather Campbell. “Some 2020-2021 recipients experienced delays in their programs, and some recipients saw their programs canceled.

“The recipients have been flexible throughout the process, and I have been impressed with their patience. I believe we should certainly celebrate their selection for Fulbright even if they are not currently participating in their Fulbright year. I am hopeful that the Fulbright recipients for 2021-2022 won’t see major disruptions in their programs.”

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program which currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually. This funding supports opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide.