There's a first time for everything

By The Beacon | March 30, 2011 9:00pm

For the first time, UP students were selected for the United Kingdom Fulbright

Natalie Higgins, Germany Fulbright (Kevin Kadooka -- The Beacon)

By Jocelyne LaFortune, Staff Writer --

Seniors Sean Frederick, Natalie Higgins and Jessica Tsao had excellent spring breaks.

Each student was awarded a Fulbright grant to spend a year abroad doing research or further study in his or her field of interest.

Frederick, a mechanical engineering student, will be studying the engineering application of lasers at the University of Liverpool.

Tsao, also a mechanical engineering major, will be studying sports biomechanics at John Moore's University.

"We've never had students selected for the United Kingdom Fulbright," John Orr, Assistant to the Provost for Honors and Fellowships and Grants, said. "To have two students selected to go to the UK is unprecedented at UP."

The United Kingdom receives the most applicants per available position, according to Orr.

This year, the UK program received 603 applicants for 14 available grants, according to the Fulbright website.

"So far we're batting a thousand," Orr said. "And that is very exciting."

Higgins will be conducting research about structural monitoring of cables at the University of Stuttgart in Germany.

"It's basically predicting when something, like a bridge, is going to break so that we can fix it before that actually happens," Higgins said.

Frederick had all but given up on receiving the award after waiting so long to hear from the selection committee.

"We all kind of thought it was over, since it took so long to hear back," Frederick said. "It was hard because you never really knew how you were doing. You just heard if you made it to the next round."

Throughout the school year, Orr helped the students prepare their applications and revise their essays for submission.

"In addition to having outstanding academic records, all three of these students worked very, very hard on their applications," Orr said. "There was about a month where each of them was in my office three times a week, for about an hour each time."

Tsao and Frederick both said the application process helped them verbalize and focus their goals.

"(The application process) really helped me focus my goals and discover exactly what I want to do," Tsao said.

For Frederick, the biggest difficulty was narrowing himself and his goals down to a single essay.

"It's hard to condense yourself and your life onto a single page," Frederick said.

Several students are still waiting to hear about English Teaching Assistantship positions, which have not been announced.


Interested in applying for a Fulbright?

Juniors interested in applying for Fulbright awards are invited to attend a meeting with John Orr, Assistant to the Provost for Honors and Fellowships and Grants, on April 14 in Shiley Hall 301.

Sean Frederick, UK Fulbright (Kevin Kadooka -- The Beacon)

Jessica Tsao, UK Fulbright (Kevin Kadooka -- The Beacon)