Pitzer Hosts Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board

Pitzer College hosted the quarterly meeting of the J.
William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board Nov. 17-19, a year after Pitzer President Laura Skandera Trombley was nominated by U.S. President Barack Obama to the 12-member board in December 2012.

Pitzer sent 22 students from its class of 2013 on Fulbright scholarships, more than any other college in the nation, and has topped the charts for Fulbright recipients per 1,000 students for 10 of the past 11 years, according to a press release published by the college.

When it convened at Pitzer this week, the board had several meetings and also hosted a panel discussion Nov. 18 that was open to the public and live-streamed on the U.S. government’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website. 

At the panel, Trombley said that Pitzer as a school has been successful at earning Fulbrights because it is “deeply
rooted in study abroad and intercultural understanding.” 

Trombley said in an interview with TSL that when she took office, approximately 40 percent of Pitzer students studied abroad; about 80 percent do now. Trombley said that she promoted the growth of study abroad by allocating more of the college’s budget to support the program. She said she has also drawn upon her firsthand experience studying abroad in Germany.

Pitzer Associate Dean Nigel Boyle, who is also director of Global and Local Programs at Pitzer, wrote in an e-mail to TSL that Pitzer is noteworthy for sending a diverse group of students on Fulbright scholarships. He wrote that 40 percent of Pitzer’s most recent recipients are men, more than 10 percent higher than the national average, and 38 percent are students of color. Pitzer also sent 16 science-based research applicants this year, and has sent several students of nontraditional ages, including military veterans, over the past few years. 

Boyle added that Pitzer is not the only Claremont College to see Fulbright success. 

“Pomona, Scripps, and CMC all have great Fulbright records, and HMC is also getting winners,” he wrote. “The Claremont Colleges are the national hotspot for Fulbright winners.”

From the class of 2013, Pomona College sent 16 students on Fulbrights; Scripps College sent nine; Claremont McKenna College sent seven; and Harvey Mudd College sent one, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

In addition to Trombley and Boyle, speakers at the Nov. 18 panel discussion included Tom Healy, the chairman of the Fulbright board, and Evan Ryan, the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. The panel itself comprised a group of Pitzer alumni who traveled to Turkey, Belgium, Cyprus, Thailand, and Mexico on Fulbright scholarships.  

Paul Kim PZ ’11, who traveled to Thailand on a Fulbright scholarship, said that his goal in traveling to Thailand was “unlocking my potential.” Kim now works as a consultant for the Mae Fah Luang Foundation in Thailand, a non-profit that focuses on development, environmental preservation, and supporting the arts.  

Janice Cho PZ ’11 spent the first semester of her junior year in Ecuador, and her second in Spain. 

“I came back to
Pitzer and immediately wondered, ‘How can I go abroad again?’” she said, a question she answered by earning a Fulbright to study science in Belgium.

She said that her experience, which she has cited in job interviews, has “changed how I interact with people.” 

Cho said that the flexibility of Pitzer’s general education requirements makes it easier to study abroad. 

“Pitzer is all about experiential learning,” Ben Ball PZ ’98 said at the panel, stressing the importance of living with a host family to his study abroad experience. “Fulbright was made for Pitzer, and Pitzer was made for Fulbright.” 

“All the seeds were laid in my Fulbright,” Ball said. “I had this sort of umbilical cord, and Fulbright definitely cut that in Turkey.”

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