Yale is no. 2 in Fulbrights

Yale produced the second-highest number of Fulbright scholars among all research institutions in the country last year — but these results are no fluke.

According to statistics released last week by the Chronicle of Higher Education, a total of 111 Elis applied for the one-year research and travel fellowship administered by the State Department during the 2010-’11 cycle, and 31 Yale College students, graduate school students, and professional schools students accepted the fellowship. Yale was second only to University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, which produced 40 Fulbright scholars out of a total of 144 applicants. Yale has long been a leader in producing Fulbright scholars — the University was among the top five Fulbright-producing research institutions in the country for five of the past six years, slipping to sixth place in 2009-’10 — thanks in part to intensive outreach and advising efforts by the Fellowship Office.

“If you don’t have someone doing outreach, you’re not going to reach the people you want to reach,” said Linda de Laurentis, the fellowship programs director and Yale’s dedicated Fulbright program advisor.

The Fellowships Office kicks off Fulbright information meetings for juniors in February, de Laurentis said, and then follows up with informal dinner meetings at every residential college. Fellowship Office advisers help students through the application process and read drafts of their personal statements and research proposals, de Laurentis said. Advisors also help put applicants in contact with past Fulbright scholars for firsthand information.

While six of nine Fulbright scholars interviewed from the class of 2010 said they did not hear about the fellowship from Yale, seven said they found the Fellowship Office very helpful in applying for the Fulbright. Amy Larsen ’10, who is in South Korea on a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship and teaches in an all-girls high school, said she could not have applied and won the fellowship without the office. Larsen described de Laurentis in particular as “a font of all Fulbright knowledge.”

Eli Bildner ’10, who will research rural credit and finance in China on a Fulbright this year, said Yale’s advising system, with one advisor focused specifically on the Fulbright, is a good one.

“I’ve talked to other kids on the Fulbright program in China, and this is not the case in most schools,” Bildner said.

Bildner said he was drawn to the prestige of United Kingdom-based fellowships like the Rhodes and Marshall as a junior. But after a meeting with Kate Dailinger, associate director of the Fellowships Office, he said he started to consider which fellowship would make him happiest— and that fellowship happened to be the Fulbright.

“A common Yalie disease is that sometimes we tend to think in terms of opportunity as opposed to desires and passions,” he said, adding that the Fellowships Office helped him think through his options more thoroughly.

Danielle Kehl ’10, who is completing a nine-month ETA administered by the Fulbright program in Rwamagana, Rwanda, said she first became serious about applying to the Fulbright program after attending a Fellowship Office information session about post-graduation fellowships. But Molly Perkins ’10, a Fulbright ETA scholar in Voronezh, Russia, said she did not use Yale’s advising resources as much as she would have liked, because she procrastinated in writing her application.

Yale’s deadline for Fulbright applications for the class of 2011 was Sept. 13. The official deadline for the Fulbright program was Oct. 18.

Correction: November 8, 2010

This article originally stated that 31 seniors accepted the fellowship. The 31 fellowships offered to Yale students were actually distributed among Yale College students, graduate school students, and professional schools students. In addition, the Fulbright adviser for the graduate school and professional schools is Robert Harper-Mangels, assistant dean of the graduate school.

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