Three Agnes Scott College students have been selected as Fulbright Finalists. Sukainah Abid-Kons ’23, MJ Jones ’23 and Karen Seaver ’23 have each been offered a grant and await the finalization of their terms of award as determined by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program.
What connects the different majors of these students is a strong connection to the German language and culture, a coincidence considering the relevance of having three award winners in a single cycle.
The Fulbright Program, regarded as one of the most prestigious international education exchange programs for U.S. students, allows its grant recipients to pursue English Teaching Assistantships and research or post-graduate education around the world. About 3,000 grants nationally are given to students each year.
Gundolf Graml, associate vice president for academic affairs and dean for curriculum and strategic initiatives, serves as the liaison for the College. He also knows a thing or two about German as a professor.
“Winning a Fulbright Grant is a significant accomplishment,” says Graml. “Whether Fulbright enables you to teach or study at an international university, you join over 400,000 alumni worldwide who have participated in the program and will be your global support network in any career field.”
According to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program site, “scholarships are used for professional advancement and community engagement on a global scale.” The two pillars of its programming align perfectly with how Agnes Scott prepares its students through the SUMMIT curriculum–the three recipients serving as examples of its effectiveness.
A point Graml echoed.
“This year’s ASC Fulbright recipients exemplify the goals of our SUMMIT Global Learning and Inclusive Leadership curriculum. They demonstrate the intercultural competence and agility that students will need in a global professional environment,” he said.
Abid-Kons, who began learning the language in an online class in 2020, wanted to connect with her grandmother on her mother’s side, who is from Luxembourg. An English and Creative Writing major, her interest in the language moved her to participate in a two-week, faculty-led global study tour to Germany in May 2022.
German Studies professor Barbara Drescher said Abid-Kons’ interest in German beyond the language requirement led to her selection as a recipient. “She convinced the Fulbright committee with her continued interest in advanced language and culture courses in which she studied the literature and film of German-Turkish writers and directors since the 1960s.”
Jones followed a similar track as her classmate, beginning her study of the language at Agnes Scott. She knew she wanted to study a language in college and settled on German, a path she recognized was different from many of her high school classmates. Jones’s interest in Germany continued to evolve during her four years at Agnes Scott, including a semester in Marburg and time spent at the German-American Conference hosted by the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Mass.
The Philosophy major also joined Drescher as a Schmidt Scholar on Agnes Scott’s Global Journeys course, a program named after late President Ruth A. Schmidt, in Berlin this March.
“Her German skills and cultural knowledge benefitted MJ as Schmidt student leader during our first-year Journeys to Germany course this semester,” said Drescher. “MJ modeled leadership and professionalism in German to first-year Scotties.”
Seaver’s curiosity in German was captured by the teachers and professors who motivated her to keep going in her pursuit of study. The longer she studied, the more enthralled she became with the language, German culture and history. Ultimately, she decided to make it her major at Agnes Scott.
“Karen convinced the Fulbright committee with her cultural and historical knowledge in German Studies, advanced German proficiency, intercultural competence, solid teaching credentials, as well as her enthusiasm about being a cultural ambassador,” said Drescher about Seaver.
All three will have their in-country placements confirmed soon.
“I am grateful to the partners and supporters of the German Studies program and Agnes Scott College,” concluded Graml. “Our Fulbright grantees prove that the generous contributions to our Journeys programs, to study abroad, and to language and culture programs do have a real impact.”