25 Elis snag Fulbrights

While Yale has traditionally maintained a strong showing of students winning Fulbright fellowships, this year the University slipped slightly in the rankings, according to figures released in Friday’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

This year, 25 Yalies — including 15 members of the Yale College class of 2008 — will be studying, teaching and researching in over a dozen countries, Yale Fellowship Program administrators said Friday. One other graduated senior won the award but declined it.

The University of Michigan topped the list for the second year in a row with 31 fellowship winners, and Harvard University edged out Yale with 29 awards.

Last year, Yale produced 28 winners, while in 2006 the University had 31 Fulbright scholars — more than any other institution in the country.

Still, Yale’s figures remain impressive because of the size of the University’s student body relative to Harvard and Michigan, said Linda De Laurentis, director of Yale’s fellowship program.

“Harvard is a much larger institution than Yale,” she said. “That makes a big difference.”

Harvard University has a total of 16,468 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled for the 2007-’08 academic year, compared to 10,206 at Yale.

Still, it is common for different schools to jockey back and forth in terms of the number of Fulbright winners, said Jamie Lawrence, a spokesman for the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“[The number of Fulbright winners] will fluctuate from year to year based on the number of applications we see from various universities,” he said.

The number of total Fulbright applications from Yale decreased last fall from the previous year, to 71 undergraduate and graduate applications from 109 total applications. The applicant pool for the 2007 awards was composed of 62 undergraduates, compared to the 52 in the 2008 awards pool, De Laurentis said.

The total number of Fulbright award winners only dropped from 28 to 26 over that period.

Elis currently abroad said they are enjoying their experiences and attributed Yale’s continuously high numbers of Fulbright scholars to the personal attention provided by Yale’s fellowship program.

Shruti Gupta ’08, a Fulbright scholar currently teaching English to middle school students in Spain, said the work is challenging given that she is only allowed to teach students in English, while the concepts are complex enough that they would have trouble understanding them in Spanish.

Gupta said she expects the money from the fellowship will allow her to break even at the end of the year.

“I’m doing this more for the experience than for the money,” she wrote in an e-mail from Spain.

Yalies also benefit from often having previous experiences studying abroad, said Jamie McSpadden ’08, a Fulbright scholar studying Eastern European history in Germany.

“When you have some experience in another country…that can help with the Fulbright,” he said in a phone interview from Germany, adding that he has traveled to Germany to do similar research twice through fellowships sponsored by the University. “The fact that Yale has opportunities to go abroad and do research beforehand can be very helpful.”

Northwestern University and the University of California at Berkeley had the fourth-most number of winners, with 24, Brown University came in seventh, with 21 winners, followed by Cornell University with 20.

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