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Fulbright Focus

Kendra Bonde on a campus bench
Kendra Bonde ’19, 2019 Fulbright Recipient

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides opportunities for U.S. citizens to study, conduct research, develop as an artist and teach in roughly 160 countries around the globe. Fulbright encourages students and recent alumnae from all backgrounds and academic disciplines to consider applying. This is an opportunity to tell your story, think about your career path, and bring your research, teaching, or artistic practice to the next level.

Smith Fulbright Facts

Over the past two decades, Smith has ranked as a Fulbright Top Producing Institution. Within that timeframe, more than 300 Smithies have been offered Fulbright grants to conduct research, study, teach and undertake projects in half of the 160 countries participating in the program. See Successes & News.

It’s Never Too Early To Start

Graduating seniors and alums submit their final applications to Fulbright in early October. However, preparing your application should begin at least six months in advance and can begin as early as your first year. Students are encouraged to start early because a competitive Fulbright application requires the development of certain skill sets and experiences.

For applicants proposing to do research or study for a degree, Fulbright selection committees want to see that you have developed a level of junior expertise in the field of study you are choosing to engage in abroad either as a project or course of study. Likewise, for many Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships, country programs are looking for candidates who have teaching experience and have a demonstrated commitment to education.

Additionally, the majority of countries participating in Fulbright require that you have at least a solid grounding in the local language. For many countries, a competitive application requires the equivalent of two years of college-level language instruction.

Are you interested in spending a year abroad pursuing an opportunity in the arts, teaching, and research internationally? Do you have a story to tell, a research question that needs to be answered in a foreign country, or a desire to teach English abroad? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Fulbright might be just the program for you. Take a look over these Fulbright award benefits and consider the possibilities.

To get started, you need to do a little research on the Fulbright Program. First, determine whether you are eligible to apply by reading over Fulbright’s eligibility requirements.

Then, take a look at this short minute-and-a-half video: Why Should You Apply to Fulbright? This video should provide a bit of encouragement and inspiration—yes, you can do this!

Next, watch this Overview of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. In 10 quick minutes, this tutorial will get you started in comprehending the Fulbright program’s overall purpose, eligibility requirements, factors in selection and history. After viewing the video, read this summary of the program condensed into a nutshell. This will help you consolidate your understanding of the program.

After you’ve watched the video. Read this quick one-page summary of the award’s history. Knowing the history of the program will provide you with a better understanding of how Fulbright seeks to promote diplomatic relationships between countries and the kinds of study and research projects are most suitable to Fulbright given the program’s aims.

Once you’ve completed all of the above steps, please click on the next tab on the folder “Eligibility, Factors in Selection, and Award Benefits.”

Much of the success Smith has enjoyed in the Fulbright competition can be attributed to the work of faculty mentors. In a nutshell, faculty mentors provide disciplinary and geographic expertise to students while they are actively engaged in applying for a Fulbright award. Mentors also serve as the faculty point of contact for advising coordination with  the Fellowships and Postgraduate Scholarships Program staff. Mentors are selected by Fulbright student applicants either  in the spring semester of their junior year or in the summer before their application. Once identified by students, the Fellowships program reaches out to potential mentors with a formal request. 

The basic responsibilities of the faculty mentor are as follows:

  • Serving as a point of contact for the Fellowships and Postgraduate Scholarship Program. Contact is intended to help support the student and provide coordinated advice on how best to advance and refine their application. 
    • For faculty mentoring study/research candidates there will be two short (30 minute) meetings with the candidate and the Fellowships team. The first meeting will be scheduled in the late spring/summer at the beginning of the application process and the second in mid-September a few weeks before the Fulbright deadline.
  • ETA candidates require only one short (30 minute) meeting involving the faculty mentor and the Fellowships team. This meeting will take place in mid-September. 
  • Providing specialized advice to students on the basis of disciplinary, cultural, geographic, and linguistic expertise.  
  • Helping students network with faculty at Smith and beyond who might be able to offer insights on what they are planning to do as well as facilitating outreach to scholars and institutions in the host country, if possible.
  • Closely reading and commenting on an initial draft of the student essay due at the end of July as well as a close to final draft due in early September. For study/research projects, faculty mentors constructive feedback on project design and methodology is essential. 

The Campus Committee Evaluation (CCE) form reflects a collaborative process. The Fellowships and Postgraduate Scholarships Program staff will use the September meeting to gather your feedback, reach a consensus on the candidate’s strengths, and then draft a written summary. The faculty mentor is asked to read and approve the document before it is submitted to the Fulbright Program. We hope this approach saves faculty time and allows each mentor to serve purely as an adviser while also ensuring faculty mentor input before the CCE is submitted. 

Meet with Us!

Once you have familiarized yourself with the award types and have thought about which ones interest you, you’re ready to meet with an adviser. Choose “Fellowships/Scholarships First Meeting” in Handshake.


Student Voices

Sakina Ali ’21
Sakina Ali ’21

“I was really scared of applications and the application process before this experience. ... But this application ... helped me realize that I just need to start—it all falls into place as you go.”

Lydia Quevedo ’21
Lydia Quevedo ’21

“Writing my application helped me reframe my career goals around who I want to be in the future.”

Iver Warburton ’21

“[From the application process] I learned to dive into the total unknown with confidence.”