Alumnus studies Norse as Fulbright scholar

West | Baylor University
West | Baylor University

Jessica Foumena
Reporter

Baylor has added a fourth Fulbright scholar this year with David Bond West, a May 2011 graduate from San Antonio. He is enrolled at the University of Iceland, where he is working toward a master of arts in Medieval studies.

The Fulbright program is a prestigious exchange program that gives opportunities to thousands of U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens to study abroad, to teach and to conduct research in different parts of the world.

West said he applied for a Fulbright scholarship to study in Iceland because it was the best alternative for him to study Norse without committing to an American Ph.D. program, usually in German or English.

“I chose the University of Iceland because Icelandic speakers can read Old Norse quite easily,” West said. “Living in Iceland would provide me with a language immersion experience that should allow me to learn Old Norse faster than just learning in the classroom. Háskóli ‘Islands (that’s the proper name for the University of Iceland) also offers a really nice M.A. program that is focused on studying Medieval Northern Europe.”

The emphasis of the M.A. program in Medieval Studies is on Norse culture, history and language.

“I am taking a course on Viking Age Archaeology, an Old Norse language course, a modern Icelandic course, a course on Saga literature, and a course on the history of the Medieval North,” West said.

West credits his admission to the Fulbright program to the strong recommendation letters written by his professors: Dr. Jeffrey Hamilton, professor and chair of history, Dr. Jeannette Denton, associate professor of English and Dr. Lydia Grebenyova, assistant professor of English.

“I took several Medieval History courses from Dr. Hamilton, all of which helped foster an interest in the Middle Ages. The first of these, on the Early Middle Ages, was especially influential, as it dealt a lot with early Germanic history and culture. My research papers for his classes tended to be on Norse-related topics,” West said. “Dr. Hamilton also advised my thesis, a task that must have required a great deal of patience. I am very grateful for his help all throughout my time at Baylor.”

Dr. Jeffrey Hamilton described his former student West as “very curious and self-motivated.” He said that West’s unique interest in Old Norse allowed him to stand out among other candidates.

“His participation in the University Scholar program at Baylor allowed him to take a wide variety of courses and to get a broad perspective of the medieval period,” Hamilton said. “He had the right background.”

Early this year, three other Baylor graduates were selected as Fulbright scholars: Austin Cook-Lindsay, Chelsea Mitcham and Amanda Randolph.

Through the Fulbright program, Cook-Lindsay and Mitcham will teach English in Kyrgyzstan and Mexico respectively, and Randolph will further her studies in Finland this fall.

For more information about national and international scholarships, visit http://www.baylor.edu/scholarships or contact Elizabeth Vardaman, associate dean of special academic projects in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor, at (254) 710-4176.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, visit: http://fulbright.state.gov.