Fulbright Focus: St. John’s a Home for Fulbright Scholars
May 11, 2022 | By Eve Tolpa
On April 7, the Office of Personal and Professional Development (OPPD) at St. John’s Santa Fe hosted an informational panel for students interested in learning about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
Currently there are seven Fulbright scholars—five tutors and two staffers—working at the New Mexico campus. Past recipient Piér Quintana, assistant director of OPPD, organized the event so Johnnies could “see the opportunity and diversity in the Fulbright Program.”
Of these seven, all but two (Santa Fe’s Director of Institutional Research and Strategic Advancement Alethea Scally and tutor Ian Moore) were available to sit on a panel and address student questions—including specifics of the award they received, their choice of country and focus of study, and the lasting impact of Fulbright on their lives and careers.
In 2016, while Quintana was employed at Santa Fe Community College—where she currently serves as the governing board secretary—she studied in Germany through the Fulbright Scholar Program.
“My grant was the International Education Administrators award that allowed me to learn about Germany’s education system and helped me form lasting connections with my counterparts in the host country,” says Quintana. “This award enhanced my ability to foster exchange between our two countries through Fulbright and other exchange programs.”
Since returning to the United States, Quintana has worked to increase awareness about the various Fulbright opportunities that exist, and she’s committed to continuing this work for St. John’s students and alumni.
The Fulbright Program was created in 1946 in the aftermath of World War II through legislation introduced by the late Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, passed by the U.S. Congress, and signed into law by President Harry Truman. The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and it operates in more than 160 countries.
Each year the program awards roughly 8,000 grants to a group comprising U.S. students, foreign students, U.S. scholars, and visiting scholars, as well as hundreds of teachers and professionals—all with the goal, says Quintana, “of building and establishing mutual understanding between people of the United States and those from other countries.”
As one of the Fulbright Program Advisors (FPA) for St. John’s Santa Fe campus (OPPD Director Charlie Bergman is the other), Quintana aims to relay information to students and alumni, so they feel empowered to apply. “The worst thing a prospective applicant can do is self-select out and not apply,” she says.
A range of experiences are open to awardees. Quintana cites tutor Sarah Stickney (A04), who in 2010 received a Fulbright grant for the translation of work by Albanian/Italian poet Gëzim Hajdari. “Sarah’s Fulbright was so well aligned with the education St. John’s students receive. Learning to translate ancient Greek and French prepares students well to propose similar Fulbright projects,” says Quintana.
Scally participated in a Mexico City program that fostered language acquisition via professional placement. “I worked at Scotiabank Mexico in corporate responsibility, all in Spanish and paid through the Fulbright Program,” she says.
Adds Quintana, “Tutors Ron Wilson and Kathleen Longwaters both completed projects for their doctoral work.” And before pursuing her own doctorate at the University of Chicago, tutor Aparna Ravilochan (SF12) worked in a rural primary school in Malaysia on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Program.
According to Quintana, that program in particular generated a lot of interest among attendees at the April event. She isn’t surprised. “It’s such a natural fit for our students,” she says.
Jaime Dunn, director of Career Services in Annapolis (and that campus’ FPA), agrees. “It’s a great opportunity,” she says, citing the fact that ETAs don’t require applicants to have teaching degrees while simultaneously prioritizing students with leadership experience, such as being a St. John’s lab assistant.
Like Quintana, Dunn also regularly organizes Fulbright informational sessions; most recently in June 2021 and March 2022. “There were a number of colleges who came together and invited their students, and we had a few St. John’s students and alumni attend both,” Dunn says.
“I also hosted a broader scholarship/fellowship info session in mid-February for students on campus and will start working over the summer with the next group on the fall scholarships, including Fulbright.”
St. John’s Annapolis has six Fulbrighters working on campus: tutors Robert Druecker, Louis Petrich, Eric Salem, Jason Tipton, and John Tomarchio, as well as Dean Joe Macfarland. There, as in Santa Fe, there’s ample assistance for students who aspire to join their ranks.
FPAs are available to support not only current students, but also graduates who are interested in applying for a Fulbright. “This is open to alumni,” says Quintana.
Though alumni can apply to the program on their own, the career service structure in Santa Fe and Annapolis offers, as Dunn puts it, “an extra layer of support.”
The application process for the 2023–24 Fulbright U.S. Student Program was launched April 1, 2022, and completed applications are due October 11. Interested students and alumni should contact an FPA.