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Harvard Leads Peer Institutions in Fulbright Awards

By Jonathan G. Adler, Crimson Staff Writer

For the third consecutive year, Harvard boasted the highest number of Fulbright award recipients among peer research universities, according to data published by the Chronicle of Higher Education in February.

Thirty-one students from across Harvard’s schools received awards in the 2015-2016 program, the most recent year for which data is available. The most recent annual tally is down slightly from the 33 students who received Fulbright funding the previous year. The last time that Harvard did not lead in its cohort of “doctoral/research institutions” was 2012, when the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor beat out Harvard by nine students.

The Fulbright program, sponsored in part by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. State Department, provides postgraduate grants to more than 1,800 American students each year to conduct research or teach abroad in more than 160 countries, according to the Bureau’s website.

Gregory A. Llacer, Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, said that undergraduates in particular have found success receiving Fulbright funding in recent years.

“We do remarkably well with undergraduates who apply for it,” Llacer said, referring to the Fulbright program. “It’s a very sizable number, especially when you look at our peer institutions.”

Llacer attributed some of that success to the in-House advising that specialized residential tutors provide to students applying to the Fulbright program, as well as to other awards and scholarships. A panel of Harvard faculty members and administrators evaluates every applicant before the Fulbright program reviews submissions.

“We have an amazing group of faculty and senior administrators who are on our Fulbright committee,” Llacer said. “Through those conversations with the faculty and senior administrators who play that role, the students have a voice in helping make their application stronger before the final submission.”

In addition to the 31 students who are now abroad, current Harvard seniors are beginning to receive offers for the 2016-2017 program, for which complete data is not yet available.

“So far we’ve heard a good number of individuals who have found out that they’ve been selected,” Llacer said. “We’re hopeful that as the word comes in we get more good news.”

Adela H. Kim ’16, a former Arts executive for the Crimson, is one such Fulbright finalist. She intends to study at Freie Universität in Berlin next year.

“At Harvard I study a lot of German art and French art in the war and post-war period,” Kim said. “I went to Germany sophomore and junior summer and fell in love with it, especially Berlin.”

Once Kim decided that she wanted to pursue a two-year master’s degree in Berlin, her resident tutors in Lowell House provided help for the fellowship application, she said.

“Harvard was really amazing about guiding us through the application process,” Kim said. “The fellowships advisors in Lowell were so helpful.”

Llacer emphasized that, to reap the full benefits of advising, students should start early in preparing to apply for Fulbright grants.

“Beginning in April we have a whole slew of House meetings where we talk about post-graduate fellowships in general and specifically Fulbright,” Llacer said. “Any student, regardless of whether or not they’re a graduating senior, can learn about these opportunities early and prepare for them.”

–Staff writer Jonathan G. Adler can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JonathanGAdler.

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