Disclaimer: Arman Smigielski is a former associate editor and executive opinion editor at the Daily. He was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.
Tufts University is a top producer of Fulbright students for the 2018–2019 academic year. Tufts was listed alongside other top-producing institutions for the sixth consecutive year in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s February report on Fulbright awards.
The highly competitive Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides funding for college graduates and professionals to study, research or teach English abroad for a period of six months to one year, according to the program’s website.
According to The Chronicle on Higher Education’s report, 10 of the 44 applicants from Tufts received Fulbright awards.
Anne Moore, program specialist in the Office of Scholar Development, attributed the success of Tufts applicants to multiple factors.
“I think the language requirement for students has a lot to do with [Fulbright success],” Moore said. “I think the strength of the [international relations] department, the general global priorities of Tufts are part of it [and] the high percentage of students studying abroad has a lot to do with why we have so many Fulbright applicants.”
Moore also outlined the combination of resources that help students prepare strong applications for programs like Fulbright.
“The faculty members who help give students feedback on their application materials, the students themselves, the graduate writing consultants who work on it, we’re all coming together with this shared goal of helping the student envision and actualize the best version of what it is they hope to do after graduation,” Moore said.
Moore also explained that her previous experience as a graduate writing consultant at the Academic Resource Center informed her philosophy on guidance and advising in the Office of Scholar Development.
“I feel really confident that the application process in and of itself is a pedagogically valuable experience,” Moore said.
Moore noted that the structural differences between the Fulbright program and other prestigious fellowship programs may contribute to Tufts’ notable success.
“Unlike some of the other competitions that come through my office, we don’t have to narrow the applicant pool at all,” Moore explained. “For Truman scholarships, for instance, you can only nominate four students per institution. For Fulbright, we nominate 50 students every year.”
Moore also explained how students success in the Fulbright and other competitive fellowship programs has contributed to Tufts’ undergraduate academic reputation.
“It’s a big deal for Tufts in terms of our national profile,” Moore said. “When I think about some of the labor that these students are doing for the university, a lot of it is about the way they’re representing Tufts on the national stage.”
Around 70 percent of Tufts Fulbright students from 2013 to 2017 were awarded English Teaching Assistantships, whereas the other 30 percent carried out research in their field of study, according to the Fulbright program’s grantee directory.
Charlotte Hoffman (LA ’18), a Fulbright scholar who is student-teaching English in Germany, emphasized the contribution made by her major advisors, Associate Professor of Political Science Richard Eichenberg and Senior Lecturer in German Saskia Stoessel.
“I firmly attribute my success with receiving a Fulbright to both of my major advisors,” Hoffman said in an electronic message to the Daily. “Both of them read over my essays and gave advice that truly changed my concept and made me much more confident.”
Drew DiMaiti (LA’ 18), a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Paris, noted the guidance and support he received from the Office of Scholar Development as part of the success of his application process.
“I attribute my success to the support I received, specifically from Anne Moore,” DiMaiti said. “I think it is our incredible staff there which has helped set Tufts apart in terms of numbers of Fulbright awards received each year.”
DiMaiti also explained how he believes the Office of Scholar Development uniquely prepares and assists applicants.
“I think that the [Office of Scholar Development] helps Tufts students to craft a Fulbright application package that best highlights how their skills, background and experiences make them a strong candidate for the position to which they are applying,” DiMaiti said.
However, Hoffman added that the Office of Scholar Development could still improve, specifically with regards to the timeline of the application process.
Hoffman explained that many interested seniors learned of the program only shortly before the Tufts deadline.
“Luckily, I had started the application over the summer,” Hoffman said. “But there were at least 20 seniors … who had no idea about the imminence [of the] Fulbright timeline because the Office [of Scholar Development] hadn’t been proactive enough with advertising over the summer or during junior year.”
Arman Smigielski (LA ’18), a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Yerevan, Armenia, described his response to learning of his award after submitting his application in October and being notified of his semifinalist status in January.
“The wait after that was a bit difficult,” Smigielski explained. “Then, on April 13, as I was walking to a double date, I got the email that I was selected for the award. I was surprised and shocked. I never thought that I would win something as prestigious as Fulbright.”