A new six-week online workshop aims to give Siena students an edge in the Fulbright application process.
Daniela Diaz '22 wants to explore Uruguay and immerse herself in its educational system. She hopes to learn unique teaching skills that she could apply to her own career as an educator. She also wants to help other first-generation college students dream beyond a diploma. Samantha Welsher '22 wants to experience Spain's culture through the context of education. She wants to promote cross-cultural awareness and bring home unique educational techniques to apply in her own future classroom. Statistically, the odds of either student scoring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity are only one in six. But their odds just improved...
Diaz and Welsher are both applying for English Teaching Assistant Grants through Fulbright. A year ago, nearly 12,000 college students nationwide applied for Fulbright awards, but only 2,000 applications were approved. The process is quite intensive - including recommendations, essays, and short-answer questions. Siena's International Programs office has always provided support through the process. But this year, they created a more comprehensive strategy.
Diaz and Welsher are among the five Saints participating in the College's first Fulbright Writing Workshop. Developed by Matt Schiesel '15, assistant director for study abroad, and Anne Godson-Glynn '98, director of the writing center, the six-week summer workshop navigates students through the application process, intently refines their writing skills, and focuses a conscious examination of their core values. Schiesel has a unique perspective of what's required from a successful application. He was a Fulbright scholar himself.
"I often thought back to my own experience applying for Fulbright when building this workshop. There were many resources on hand at the time that we have seamlessly integrated into this workshop, however, more than anything, we designed it to build a sense of cohort mentality for the students. Applying for a nationally-competitive fellowship can feel very daunting and stressful, but by showcasing the support systems in place to help the students through the application process and allowing them to see that they're not the only ones doing this, I think they feel much more at ease and comfortable."
Siena has made it a priority to expand fellowship opportunities for its students. Since 2011, 31 Siena students/alumni have applied for Fulbright grants, and nine winners went on to teach abroad in countries including Argentina, Malaysia, Mexico and Italy. While not every student has won a Fulbright, many Fulbright applicants utilize the skills gained through the application process to achieve other prestigious and successful postgraduate opportunities including law school, graduate teaching programs, TAPIF, the JET Programme, and more.
"The Fulbright workshop is not only valuable in helping me prepare my application, it has also helped me define myself as a person and truly understand my core values, motivations, and passions. Applying for Fulbright is a challenging yet transformative process and I am so grateful to have Matt, Anne, and everyone else in the workshop to support me in my journey."
Samantha Welsher '22
"I truly believe if it weren’t for the workshop I would not feel as confident in the application process. There is a lot of self-analysis that occurs to produce these detailed essays. The workshops have helped me truly understand my values and desires in life. Matt, Anne, and everyone else in the workshop are all very supportive and understand our struggles throughout this journey."
Daniela Diaz '22