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The University of Delaware is a top producer of Fulbright U.S. Students

Photo by Evan Krape

Eleven students from UD were selected for Fulbright awards for academic year 2023-24

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recognized the University of Delaware as one of the colleges and universities with the highest number of students selected for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Fulbright Top Producing Institutions like the University of Delaware value global connections and support members of their campus communities in pursuing international opportunities.

Eleven students from UD were selected for Fulbright awards for academic year 2023-24. This marks the first time UD has been officially designated as a Fulbright Top Producer, though UD has had 100 Fulbright U.S. Student Program recipients to date. In 1951, Donald M. Stewart was the first individual from UD to be awarded a Fulbright; he studied Romance languages and literature in France.  

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international academic exchange program. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 talented and accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds with the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. Fulbrighters exchange ideas, build people-to-people connections, and work to address complex global challenges. 

“As a pioneer in global education, the University of Delaware is excited to be recognized among the nation’s key partners in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program,” said UD President Dennis Assanis. “We are proud of our Fulbright recipients this year, as well as those from past years. Our incredibly talented students and those who support them know this experience is deeply transformative for the individual and truly beneficial for our global society. We look forward to continuing to build the Fulbright community at UD.”

Fulbright advising is housed within UD’s Honors College. UD provides Fulbright advisement to UD graduating seniors, graduate students and alumni. The program serves U.S. citizens who have earned a bachelor's degree but have not yet completed a doctoral or terminal degree in their discipline. 

"It is extremely fitting that in the year UD is celebrating its 100th anniversary of study abroad, we are also able to celebrate making Fulbright's top producer list,” said Michael Chajes, dean of UD’s Honors College. “Many students come to UD because of our commitment to helping students pursue their academic passions in other countries. The fact that they have been so successful at receiving Fulbright awards is a measure of both the outstanding students we have here at UD and the incredible mentorship they receive from our faculty and staff." 

UD offers a mentoring program for Fulbright applicants who submit drafts of their essays by July 15. UD faculty and staff, many of whom received Fulbrights, are paired with applicants to give feedback on their essays in advance of the UD deadline in September. Faculty and staff also serve on UD’s campus evaluation committees and conduct interviews before final submission. Interest meetings and an application writing workshop will be held for 2025-26 cycle applicants this spring.

Applicants to Fulbright at UD are supported by Kristin Bennighoff, Fulbright Program Advisor, along with a campus committee of volunteer faculty and staff. 

“The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is an excellent opportunity for teaching English, conducting research or studying for a one-year master's degree in another country,” Bennighoff said. “Not only does a Fulbright experience prepare recipients for global careers, but it also provides cultural understanding that can be used in internationally connected U.S.-based jobs.”

U.S. Army Captain Sara Sajer graduated from UD in 2017 with honors degrees in English and mass communication. She received the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Kosovo for 2017-2018. There, she taught English to more than 200 students at the University of Mitrovica and led activities for non-governmental organizations that focused on inter-ethnic dialogue between Albanians and Serbs. 

After returning to the U.S., Sajer became a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador charged with mentoring the next generation of global leaders. In this role, she coached dozens of military-connected Fulbright applicants through the nuanced military approval process that accompanies the standard application cycle. 

Sajer said her Fulbright opportunity was a "golden ticket" for her future. Sajer shared, "I am proud to say that through intensive outreach and coaching, the number of military-connected Fulbright finalists has increased by 48% in two years."

Bennighoff shared that the Fulbright application process is a UD community effort. “The Honors College, Center for Global Programs and Services, faculty and staff have worked together for years leading up to this year’s success,” she said.

“Fulbright’s Top Producing Institutions represent the diversity of America’s higher education community. Dedicated administrators support students and scholars at these institutions to fulfill their potential and rise to address tomorrow’s global challenges. We congratulate them and all the Fulbrighters who are making an impact the world over,” said Lee Satterfield, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.

About the Fulbright Program

Fulbright is a program of the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program. Fulbright alumni work to make a positive impact on their communities, sectors, and the world and have included 41 heads of state or government, 62 Nobel Laureates, 89 Pulitzer Prize winners, 80 MacArthur Fellows, and countless leaders and changemakers who build mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.  

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit https://fulbrightprogram.org/.

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