Katie Kraska, '13, Earns Fulbright Scholarship for Research in Indonesia


Senior Katie Kraska found out she won a Fulbright scholarship to research in Indonesia before DePauw's other eight finalists.
Kraska, a biology and art history double major from Kentucky, opted to complete a research project instead of teaching English. She will conduct research on wildlife tourism and community empowerment in Bandung, Indonesia for ten months.
"[Teaching English] makes me feel a little imperial," said Kraska.  "I'd rather learn about [Indonesian] culture."
The project will investigate how to make land profitable for the people of Indonesia, as opposed to for the foreign corporations who buy up land, but do not put any of the money back into the country.
"Indonesia has arguably the richest ecological diversity anywhere except the rain forests," Kraska said. "It's threatened by any industry."
Kraska is passionate about animals. She has ridden horses all her life, and she has been a vegetarian since she was in seventh grade for moral and ethical reasons. Her passion inspired her to find constructive way to help animals. 
Her junior year Kraska studied abroad in East Africa. Her experience abroad gave her a basis for her experience in the field of wildlife tourism.  
"Indonesia is similar to East Africa," Kraska said. "I kind of got my hands dirty there."
While in Indonesia Kraska also received the Critical Language Award, a program that is part of the Fulbright, to learn the native language of Indonesia.
Kraska began the application process last year by going to informational meetings, and crafting a project idea. She credited Robby Jacobs, who graduated last year, for getting her excited about Indonesia. Jacobs' father was a diplomat for Indonesia, and their family still owns a house in the country.  
"My entire being was consumed by Fulbright," Kraska said. "After being so consumed I blocked it out."
Kraska said she had forgotten about applying until she heard she was a finalist, and decided not to make a plan until she got the scholarship. But Kraska heard back in February, sooner than she expected.
"She heard back unusually early," David Gellman, a history professor and a program advisor for the Fulbright scholarship, said. "It's kind of exciting."
To earn the Fulbright, Kraska went through two separate interview rounds, one in America and the other in the foreign country, and wrote a 500 word personal essay and a project proposal. 9,626 people applied for the scholarship in the fall of 2012, and only 35 percent made it through to the next round according to an email from Marnie McInnis, Director of Nationally Competitive Fellowships and Awards Office. Typically 53 percent of DePauw applicants make it to the finalist round.
"DePauw students have had overseas experience, and are experienced writers," McInnis said.  "They are well positioned for Fulbrights."
A large sampling of different types of majors, from political science students to music students, earn Fulbright scholarships according to McInnis.
Part of the process of applying for a Fulbright at DePauw is the support and editing of essays by not only faculty, but also peers. 
"One of the nice things is there are so many countries," Gellman said. "Students are not really competing with each other.  They are support groups really."
In 2012, DePauw was on a list of schools that have shown success receiving Fulbright Scholarships. In order to make the list a school needs to send at least three Fulbright scholars. and last year DePauw sent four students. DePauw has made this list a total of six times.
The preparations for next year starts this Friday in Harrison 104, and mid-October is the deadline for the aplication.
For Kraska, the reality of the scholarship has not fully settled in.  
"It's starting to sink in," said Kraska.  "But not completely. It probably won't until I'm on the plane."