How Liberty Students Can Take Advantage of Fulbright Program
- Liberty students and faculty hoping to earn a grant to study abroad can apply for the Fulbright Program at Liberty.
- Those interested should start their application process a year before traveling abroad, and applicants will be interviewed by the Liberty University Fulbright Committee.
Sarah Heist, a 2016 Liberty University graduate, admits she only half-listened when she was told about the Fulbright Program at Liberty her sophomore year during an Honors Program event.
“At the time, I did not think I would ever apply for a grant,” Heist said. “But after traveling to Guatemala for my internship the following summer, I realized that Fulbright might allow me to return to Guatemala as an English Teaching Assistant for the 2018-2019 grant.”
Heist later applied for a Fulbright teaching grant to Guatemala with help from the Department of Modern Languages and Edna Udobong, advisor and scholar liaison for the Fulbright Program at Liberty. The process took a year to complete.
“My application was definitely a team effort,” Heist said.
The Fulbright program opens such international opportunities to academics, administrators, and students to go overseas and work within their fields of study for cultural engagement, said Professor Udobong.
The Fulbright program is fully funded by the U.S. government and foreign governments. All Fulbright grants to all recipients are fully paid for by the U.S. government and foreign governments including transportation and other stipends.
The Fulbright grant benefits include round-trip transportation to the host country, funding to cover room, board, and incidental costs (based on the cost of living in the host country). In some countries, grants may also include book and research allowances, mid-term enrichment activities, full or partial tuition, language study programs, pre-departure and in-country orientations.
Faculty from Liberty may engage in teaching, research or the arts for periods ranging from two to three weeks, to an entire academic year.
The Fulbright program also opens doors for administrators interested in international work to visit several other countries for two-week long seminars to network and build institutional relations.
There are over 3,000 awards available to students, administrators and faculty interested in Fulbright grants. These include awards in teaching, research, study, creative and performing arts, digital arts and storytelling, critical language enhancement, public health and public policy.
“You just need to go and be an ambassador,” Edna Udobong said. “Once you apply and receive the grant, you’re considered a diplomat for the United States, and you’re treated like one. You’re representing the United States and bringing back knowledge.”
The application process is just as rigorous as the program itself, just as Heist recounted. Any student who applies for the grant must demonstrate that they can aptly serve in their chosen country as an academic ambassador. This includes knowing the language in most cases, along with understanding the central issues and any cultural nuances of the country.
To succeed, applicants must start the process at least no less than one year prior to the year of the application’s deadline. Udobong advises that undergraduates start consulting with her in their second year for the Fulbright application advising.
Fulbright has a six-month application process that faculty and students must follow, and that process starts in early spring with a deadline in August and October respectively. The student must attend Fulbright workshops in early spring, and work directly with Udobong during the summer and in early fall to draft essays and make appropriate contacts overseas, such as embassies, consulates and the Fulbright commissions in the applicant’s chosen country.
There is a special committee—the Liberty University Fulbright Committee—whose members have been nominated from different departments who review. They help evaluate student applications during the Fulbright campus interview in August, and also help students during the application process.
“All across Liberty University are students and professors doing quality of work worthy of the international recognition and support that the Fulbright program brings,” Karen Swallow Prior, a Fulbright Committee member and professor at Liberty, said. “Identifying and encouraging Fulbright applicants from Liberty University serves to further enhance the work being already being done here as well as to increase our school’s stature on the global stage.”
The Fulbright program opens doors for students and faculty alike. Dr. Michael Jones received a Fulbright grant to Romania 2014, and is now a Liberty University Fulbright Committee member.
“The grant was a blessing to us academically,” Jones said. “It opened many, many ministry opportunities for me and my wife. We are thankful that we were there to champion the cause.”
Despite the rigor of the application, Udobong calls the Fulbright grant the defining grant for any academic. As a two-time grantee herself, Udobong sees the Fulbright program as a new avenue to fulfil the mission at Liberty University to “train champions” through academic ambassadorship.
“It shows your ability to display your culture and academic work in a way that no one else can,” Udobong said. “God will use you, so make yourself available. And Fulbright can help you do that.”
The Fulbright Program at Liberty University is administered and supervised by the Provost and Chief Academic Officer. To learn more about the Fulbright program and for advising, contact Professor Udobong at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.