Butler University named top producer of Fulbright U.S. Student Program recipients

Butler University is a top producer of Fulbright recipients, including four last year. Photo courtesy of Dacia Charlesworth. 

OLIVIA KLAFTA | STAFF REPORTER | oklafta@butler.edu 

On Feb. 9, Butler University was named a top producing institution of Fulbright U.S. student program recipients for the 2019-20 academic year by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Butler had 16 applicants, four of which were awarded the scholarship. 

Matt Del Busto, a 2019 graduate, was one of five recipients to be an English Teaching Assistant in Spain. He is an English Teaching Assistant at the University of Málaga in the English literature and translation and interpretation departments. His daily responsibilities range from presenting on U.S. culture to leading small groups in writing workshops. 

“While it’s obvious that there is a language exchange element as part of the grant, the even cooler thing has been the cultural exchange,” Del Busto said in an email to The Butler Collegian. 

Del Busto gave an example about how he presented to several different classes about Thanksgiving traditions in the U.S. and what the day might look like for his American family. Then he divided the students into groups to create their own “Spanish Thanksgivings.”

“It was super fun to see them getting excited about Thanksgiving and I loved hearing about all the different foods they would include,” Del Busto said in the email. 

Fulbright candidates can apply to the Open Study/Research Award or English Teaching Assistant, also known as the ETA award. Recipients of the Open Study/Research Award design their own research projects and usually work alongside advisers at a foreign university to complete them. The ETA program places recipients in schools abroad to enhance local English instruction by acting as a native speaker in the classroom. Applicants must have a baccalaureate degree to apply. 

Once an applicant chooses the country they want to study in and the award they want to apply for, they begin their application by filling out biographical information. They will then write a one page personal statement that explains their intent for applying to the program. Those applying for the Open Study/Research Award will then write two pages to pitch their research project to the selection committee. Those applying to the ETA award have one page to write their statement of grant purpose where they outline their teaching experience and how they propose to teach abroad. 

The Fulbright program was created in 1945 by Senator William Fulbright who proposed a bill to Congress that would use the revenue from surplus war property sales to support the “promotion of international good will through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture and science.” 

Del Busto has taught an English class to Colombian and Venezuelan refugees during his Fulbright program.

“It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience,” Del Busto said in the email. “Continuing to teach English as a second language or help facilitate conversations between an English-only speaker and a Spanish-only speaker in some kind of capacity is something I really hope I can stay involved with back in the U.S.”

Dacia Charlesworth, director of undergraduate research and prestigious scholarships, helps Butler alumni applicants through the process of applying for the program. 

Charlesworth reviews their first draft of the application, which the applicant will make edits to before it undergoes an evaluation by a committee comprised of Charlesworth and faculty members. The committee thoroughly reviews the application and provides feedback and questions to the applicant, who will then make further edits. 

Applicants can also apply to special program awards, which include the Fulbright-Fogarty Awards in Public Health, the Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship and the Critical Language Enhancement Award supplemental grant.

Charlesworth said she hopes students will reach out early on if they are interested in applying for the program, and that it is never too early for students to start planning. 

“If there is a first year student or sophomore student who thinks, ‘I want to go conduct research in the Amazon,’ or ‘I know I want to teach English in South Korea,’ come see me,” Charlesworth said. “Because even if you’re not an education major, we can still identify opportunities on our campus to strengthen your teaching skills.” 

Julia Bartusek, a 2019 Butler graduate, spent four weeks in at Queen’s University Belfast in Ireland as a 2017 Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute recipient. 

While the Fulbright U.S. student and Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute programs share similar names, they are different entities. The U.S. student program is administered by the Institute for International Education, while the U.K. Summer Institute by the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commision. Students must be a first year or sophomore to apply to the U.K. Summer Institute. 

“Two of the students who are on U.S. Student Fulbright’s right now, I met when they applied for the Summer Institute,” Charlesworth said. “I spend so much energy trying to recruit for the Summer Institute’s because if I meet our outstanding students as first years and sophomores, we develop that relationship. So each year, ‘What are you doing now? What other community activities can we get you doing?’ And it just makes them a stronger candidate later on.” 

Bartusek studied conflict transformation in Northern Ireland. She said her experience through Fulbright “directly impacted her career choices.” 

“I think it’s pretty incredible for Butler to be noticed in that way and to just have so many students getting to participate,” Bartusek said. “Beyond the recognition piece, which is obviously great, but actually having that many students participate in such a transformative experience can only do good for the community.”

Along with Del Busto, 2019 graduates Meredith Gallagher and Tommy Roers, and 2017 graduate Mohrenweiser was awarded the Fulbright scholarship. 

Gallagher is now conducting research in Bolivia and Peru where she is evaluating the effectiveness of a medical apparatus used to patch holes in hearts. 

Roers was chosen to be an English Teaching Assistant. He was one of six students chosen to teach in Uruguay. 

Mohrenweiser is earning her Ph.D at Queen’s University Belfast. She received the Global Peace, Security, and Justice award. Recipients of this award research the global challenges that arise when social justice and human rights are sought out. 

Fulbright is primarily funded and led by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. According to the Fulbright website, the U.S. government partners with over 160 countries to offer “international educational and cultural exchange programs” to those who are passionate and accomplished in their area of expertise. 

A Fulbright student program workshop will be held Feb. 25 from 1-2 p.m. in Atherton Union 326. A representative from Fulbright will present an overview of the program and talk one-on-one with students about their potential interest in the program. 

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