Inaugural Baylor Fulbright Day honors record-breaking success in program

Baylor celebrated Fulbright scholars and finalists at the inaugural Baylor Fulbright Day. Abby Roper | Photographer

By Rory Dulock | Staff Writer

The inaugural Baylor Fulbright Day honored the success of past Fulbright winners and this year’s finalists on Tuesday. The event comes after Baylor’s record-breaking success in the program in recent years.

The Fulbright Program is a highly selective exchange program that gives participants a chance to expand on their education with teaching and research opportunities around the world. For the second year in a row and the second year ever, Baylor is a U.S. Fulbright Top Producing Institution. Baylor ranks second among all Texas universities and Big 12 schools and is the top Texas private university for producing student Fulbright recipients.

Dr. Daniel Benyousky, director of major fellowships and awards, said the Office of Engaged Learning works with students to pursue and maximize their education beyond the classroom.

“We also help students engage in a variety of ways of excellence through undergraduate research, through pursuing different internship opportunities, different civic engagement opportunities, as well as funded and non-funded undergraduate research opportunities — which are not as common at a lot of universities … while you’re an undergraduate,” Benyousky said.

Specifically, Benyousky said the Office of Engaged Learning works with students in the application process for the Fulbright Program.

“Sometimes we say Fulbright is one name for many different awards,” Benyousky said.Faculty and staff can apply for the Fulbright Scholars Program, for instance, but we work with the U.S. Student Program. [A student] needs to have a bachelor’s degree to apply for it by the time [they] go out on the award, so we work with graduating seniors, alums and graduate students to apply for the Fulbright.”

Anna Beaudry, assistant director of major fellowships and awards, said the U.S. Student Program is a way for students to expand their academic horizons while experiencing another culture.

“The big thing with the Fulbright is it was founded as part of the United States Soft Diplomacy Program,” Beaudry said.A big emphasis they have is on building mutual understanding between countries and this intercultural connection through kind of living immersively in a community overseas for a whole year.”

Benyousky said there are over 140 countries to choose from, along with two different kinds of awards.

There’s the Study Research Award, which allows you to do a year of study — typically a master’s degree — or a year of research that’s non-degree-granting,” Benyousky said.Then there’s what’s called the English Teaching Assistant Award.”

Since the opening of the Office of Engaged Learning, Benyousky said it has been able to grow in capacity. For the current Fulbright cycle, the office helped prepare the 34 Baylor students who are finalists. The finalists will know the results in late March.

Beaudry said Baylor’s success in the U.S. Student Program is an excellent representation of the university and shows how competitive it is even among bigger schools.

“Though our office is the hub for the U.S. Fulbright Student Program, it really is a universitywide, a campuswide endeavor,” Benyousky said. “There are an untold number of faculty members and staff that mentor students throughout their time. The administration at Baylor has also been very supportive of the Fulbright. … Having a day to celebrate that doesn’t just highlight certain sectors; it really is a Baylor thing.”