Three Siena Students Win Fulbright Awards

Three Students Win Fulbright Awards

Thursday, April 30, 2015

By Jim Eaton

For the first time in the College’s history, three students were awarded Fulbright Teaching Assistantships in the same academic year. Jamie Desrosier ’15, Keva Luke ’14 and Matt Schiesel ’15 were selected for the competitive program that requires students to have a study abroad experience, strong academic record and a demonstrated interest in serving as a bridge between cultures. The application process is a year-long effort that includes essays, an interview by a campus committee and scrutiny by both a national Fulbright panel and a committee in the host country.

“This is a tremendous honor for a college our size and I couldn’t be more proud of the students,” said Br. Brian Belanger, O.F.M., director of the Center for International Programs. He also expressed his appreciation for the dedicated efforts of Greg Jabaut, associate director and coordinator of the Fulbright recruitment and application process.

“Plan A” After Graduation Becomes a Reality

Desrosier ’15, a political science major, studied abroad in Israel and Tanzania. Her Fulbright will bring her to Malaysia. It is a fully funded 12-month program where she will teach English to local children. 

“Br. Brian encouraged me as a sophomore to go abroad and it completely changed my life,” she said. “I’m so happy my first option after graduation is going to become a reality.”

Schiesel ’15, an English major, was excited to have his reach plan become a reality too. He studied abroad in Glasgow, Scotland and his Fulbright will bring him to Poland where he will teach English and bring a piece of the American culture to his classroom too.

“After surviving an intense 18-minute skype interview with the Polish screening committee I felt I had a good chance at this honor,” Schiesel said. He credits his experiences on campus as a tutor in the Writing Center’s ESOL program and his work in organizing the annual Mr. Siena fundraising event in helping him earn the award. 

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Luke ’14, who graduated with a degree in Spanish, studied abroad in the Dominican Republic and Cuba. She is currently working as a North American Language and Culture Assistant through the Ministry of Education in Spain. Her Fulbright will take her to Argentina where she hopes to build her Spanish fluency while teaching postsecondary classes.

“I had been waiting anxiously for a response from the Fulbright committee for so long that my cellphone was glued to my palm,” Luke, a 2013 Gilman Scholarship winner said. “I feel like this is my golden ticket as I eventually want to become a college professor.”

Studying abroad continues to be a popular option on campus as Siena was recently ranked 37 among baccalaureate colleges in the United States for total number of students studying abroad in the Open Doors 2014 Report on International Educational Exchange. Nearly 25 percent of the Class of 2015 took advantage of an international experience through Siena.

“The most important thing we continue to do at Siena is match students with opportunities that are a good fit for them,” Br. Brian said. “My role often includes speaking with  students who have never left the country and encouraging them to be adventurous.”

Now that these Fulbright Scholars have been through the year-long application odyssey they are certainly ready for the real adventure to begin.