The ‘domino effect’ of DePauw Fulbright recipients

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The Fulbright scholarship, a prestigious award given to a few college graduates, has spiked in DePauw University recipients in 2013 with seven recipients, compared to only two in 2011.
The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program that is awarded to roughly 8,000 people each year who have shown outstanding academic and leadership qualities. U.S. citizens apply to go abroad, and non-U.S. citizens apply to come to the U.S to do research, teach in elementary and secondary schools, exchange ideas and find solutions to international issues.
The number of DePauw students who have received Fulbright awards has risen dramatically in recent years. Kate Knaul, national fellowship advisor and assistant dean for academic life at DePauw, thinks that this is due to a domino effect.
“When students win and their story is shared, other students see that they, too, could apply and win these competitive awards,” Knaul said. She added that DePauw faculty also “identify potential applicants and encourage them to apply.”
DePauw faculty and staff have been quite persistent over the past few years in encouraging students to apply for the Fulbright award. There has been some debate over whether this push has been in the best interest of the students, or if DePauw wants more of its students to receive Fulbright awards to increase its own prestige.
Kendall Quisenberry ’13, a recipient of last year’s Fulbright award, thinks that this type of behavior is natural in any college.
 “That’s how colleges operate,” Quisenberry said.
However, she does not necessarily consider this to be a bad thing.
“Essentially, students, faculty and alumni make the institution, therefore, when one element succeeds, they all succeed,” Quisenberry said.
David Gellman, professor of history and Fulbright Program co-advisor at DePauw, does not see a push happening at all, calling the interest in the program “nothing new,” and “the product of years and years of hard work from students, faculty, and staff.”
Despite the uncertainty over whether DePauw is pushing its students to apply for the right reasons, there is no question that DePauw students are succeeding in their endeavors.
Quisenberry believes that the combination of incredible faculty and driven students is what has truly led to more Fulbright awards this past year than ever before.
“DePauw students are great writers, traveled people and can think critically,” Quisenberry said, which she believes are the essential elements of an application.
Gellman agrees, “It is truly a community-wide effort, and without so many contributions from so many people none of this would be possible.”