Fulbright Tradition Continues at Rollins

June 01, 2009

 Fulbright recipient Kate Osterloh (Class of 2009)

Rollins is nationally recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Awards, and this year continues to be no exception. Kate Osterloh, a 2009 graduate, was named a Fulbright Scholarship recipient and is the fourth Rollins student to receive a Fulbright award this year.  Osterloh, international relations major and Jewish studies minor, graduated summa cum laude this May and received the General Charles McCormick Reeve Award for being one of the top five graduates in her class.

As part of her Fulbright Scholarship, Osterloh will live in Egypt and pursue a dual master’s degree in international human rights law and migration and refugee studies at the American University in Cairo. For her graduate studies thesis she will conduct research on the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are working with refugee populations in and around Cairo. After her studies, she plans to remain in the Middle East working with an NGO or international organization to gain experience working with refugee law. Eventually, Osterloh would like to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

“I am immensely honored to receive the Fulbright award and look forward to returning to Cairo,” said Osterloh. “A vital pillar of the Fulbright program is cultural exchange and understanding, which is essential for America’s relationship with Egypt and the greater Middle East. I am eager to engage in this cultural dialogue and I am certain my time as a Fulbright Scholar will help me learn and grow in ways I cannot yet imagine. Rollins is to be highly commended for their commitment to developing global citizens and also for their strong efforts to help students reach their full potential. Without the intensive assistance and encouragement of Jay Shivamoggi, director of external and competitive scholarships, I would never have made it through the arduous process of applying for the Fulbright. My time studying at Rollins helped narrow and define my future goals and prepared me to go after these goals with confidence and enthusiasm. I am tremendously grateful to Rollins for giving me this opportunity.”

The Fulbright program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, is the largest U.S. international exchange program offering opportunities for students, scholars and professionals to pursue international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

“Kate’s Fulbright award is a highly competitive research grant,” said Shivamoggi. “Last year, there were 85 applicants with just 24 scholarships awarded.  Being an undergraduate, Kate was competing against recent Ph.D.’s, lawyers, and graduate students for this scholarship. She was in a pool with very tough competition. Kate is passionate about working with international refugees and founded a non-profit organization called Spoon in the Hand; her passion and genuine desire to help refugees was evident in her Fulbright application and is what gave her an advantage over others in achieving this award.”

Osterloh joins two other 2009 Rollins graduates and one alumnus previously chosen to receive Fulbright Awards. Kelly Rolfes-Haase, an anthropology major and German minor, along with Trevor O'Bryan, an international relations major with minors in economics and German, and Chase VanSteenburg, a 2008 graduate in international business with a Spanish minor, will each spend a year abroad as part of the Fulbright program. Rolfes-Haase and O'Bryan will serve as English teaching assistants in German middle and high schools. VanSteenburg will spend a year in Spain teaching English to Spanish elementary school students.


2009 Fulbright Award winners: Chase VanSteenburg (Class of 2008), Trevor O'Bryan (Class of 2009) and Kelly Rolfes-Haase (Class of 2009)

"I am more excited than words can express," said Gunnison, Colo., native Rolfes-Haase. "I respect the German culture and people, and can't wait to work with students in English training. I also hope that in my time there I will be able to collect ideas that will help to propel the environmentalism movement in the U.S. and to encourage a more sustainable and environmentally aware perception of the world here at home. Upon her return, Rolfes-Haase plans to pursue graduate work in either environmental or applied anthropology.

O'Bryan, from Altha, Fla., will also be studying in Germany. O'Bryan said of his upcoming Fulbright experience, "The nature of my assignment will not only allow me to fully immerse myself in the culture but also grant me an excellent opportunity to expand upon the experiences I gained during my study abroad there. All in all, I am very much looking forward to being a representative of the United States to Germany, he said. Once he returns from Germany, O'Bryan plans to pursue a master's degree in international affairs/relations.

When talking about being awarded a Fulbright, VanSteenburg, a Boston native, credits his Rollins education. "The international business department has an excellent curriculum that gave me a well-rounded education and fostered the kind of global perspective that is becoming essential in today’s business environment. The program involved a language requirement, and I took my first Spanish class with great reluctance," he said. "My experience with the Rollins Spanish department came as one of the biggest surprises in my academic life. I cannot say enough about the quality of the teaching. Alberto Prieto-Calixto, Gabriel Barreneche and Jennifer Fischer-Blenis helped me discover a talent and a passion for a subject that I had formerly given up on." He went on to say, "The most exciting and eye-opening months of my life were when I participated in Rollins' programs in Madrid and Oviedo, Spain. During my time in Spain, I lived with students from all over Europe. I fell in love with the vibrant international community, and my plans for the future began to take shape. I feel thrilled and deeply honored to have received the Fulbright Award, which makes for an unbeatable first step on the long road toward my goal. At this early stage in my life, the opportunity to teach in Spain allows me an unparalleled opportunity to gain fluency in Spanish, hone my teaching skills, and broaden my cultural horizons." VanSteenburg's goal upon returning from Spain is to become an international business professor, fostering the next generation of business leaders.

VanSteenburg also affirmed what a tremendous asset Jay Shivamoggi, director of external and competitive scholarships at Rollins, has been throughout the application process. "She works incredibly hard and does an excellent job managing deadlines and staying in contact with her charges. The value of her experience, upbeat attitude, and consistent encouragement cannot be overstated," he said.

The Fulbright program, established in 1946 by the U.S. Congress, aims to enable the government of the United States to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Rollins students interested in the Fulbright program should contact Jay Shivamoggi at jshivamoggi@rollins.edu or ext. 2346.

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