The Ambassadors

For nearly 70 years, Rollins graduates have served as stewards of international goodwill through the Fulbright program.

In April 2017, Ben Wozniak ’17 became the College’s 41st Fulbright recipient since 2006. (Photo by Scott Cook) In April 2017, Ben Wozniak ’17 became the College’s 41st Fulbright recipient since 2006. (Photo by Scott Cook)

Sixty-six years ago, Shirley Christensen Howard ’51 became the first Rollins student to earn a prestigious Fulbright scholarship.

The Fulbright program was new then, having been enacted via federal law only five years before. It was designed, at the start of the Cold War, to promote “international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.” The country’s largest exchange program, Fulbright scholarships enable students and young professionals to go abroad to teach, undertake international graduate study, or conduct advanced research.

Every year, the program awards about 8,000 grants; half of them go to foreign students coming to the U.S., and another 2,100 go to visiting and U.S. scholars. The remainder—just 1,900—are awarded to U.S. students to travel to one of 160 countries. They’re among the most competitive grants around: For every student who gets one, many more apply and don’t.

“It’s a huge, complicated process,” says Jayashree Shivamoggi, director of Rollins’ Office of External & Competitive Scholarship Advisement, who has helped guide students through the rigorous application procedure since 2003.

Every year, at least one of those 1,900—sometimes as many as six—comes from Rollins. In fact, since Christensen became the first Rollins student to win a Fulbright, 66 have followed in her path, including 41 since 2006. (Another three were awarded the scholarship but decided not to participate.) They’ve gone everywhere from South Korea and Egypt to Bulgaria and Spain.

In February, for the sixth time and fifth year in a row, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs named Rollins one of the country’s top producers of Fulbright scholars. A big reason for this consistent success, Shivamoggi says, is due to the fact that the Fulbright program aligns so well with Rollins’ mission to develop global citizens and responsible leaders.

The Ambassadors