The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

Fulbright and Watson Fellowship scholars announced

For many of this year’s graduates, the next year will prove to be as educational as a year at Grinnell, as they leave the bubble and enter the outside world as post-graduates. For a select few, they have the opportunity to go to grad school, or travel the world for free. This will certainly be true for this year’s winners of the Fulbright Scholarship and the Watson Fellowship.

Both scholarships are run through the Office of Social Commitment, though they provide very different experiences.

“The Fulbright offers one year of international education experience… they offer essentially two types of grants for undergraduates,” said Director of Social Commitment Doug Cutchins. “One is an English teaching assistantship…. the other type of Fulbright grant is one in which you apply to go to a university for one year to study a question or topic which is of particular interest to you.” The Watson on the other hand pays for students to spend a year traveling the world to interact with other cultures.

“The Watson is also one year, post graduation and international but is a quite different opportunity,” Cutchins said. “With the Watson you propose to do something experiential in nature and you can go to many different countries.”

While the Watson Fellowship is limited to four nominations, when it comes to the Fulbright Fellowship, the College does not limit the number of nominees. Despite this, both scholarships are incredible opportunities for students who want to engage in an educational experience abroad. According to the Office of Social Commitment, the number of applicants to these fellowships and other community-based scholarships have more than doubled since 2004.

Fulbright Scholar Winnon Brunson ’10 will travel to Denmark next year to study public health.

“With Winnon’s interests and abilities, his passion and dedication to the public health needs of minority communities—I would not be surprised if he is the national leader in those areas in future years,” Cutchins said.

John Rassenfoss ’10, another Fulbright scholar, will travel to Germany next year to teach English at the secondary level.
“I spent a semester in Berlin last year… and I loved it, I loved Berlin and every facet of my life there,” said Rassenfoss, who spent much of the last few months working on and interviewing for the Fulbright’s two part application.

According to Rassenfoss, Cutchins was highly active in the application process.

“This year he got a bunch of people from the writing lab together and we had a ‘Fulbrightapalooza,’ or something, and we sat in the computer lab in Noyce and worked on our statements together,” Rassenfoss said.

Cutchins is known for being an active figure in the advocating process and was even given a mug by a past applicant reading the quotation “It’s all about the process.”

The Watson Fellowship also requires its applicants to reflect seriously on their passions and interests.

“Whether an applicant gets the position or not, they come out of the process learning more about themselves,” Cutchins said. “[With regards to] the Watson, in a good year, one wins, in a great year two win,” said Cutchins.

Last year, none of Grinnell’s nominees were awarded one of the 50 scholarships, though this year, Filippos Rodger Tsakiris ’10 received a Watson to research sustainable energy and its implementation in his island community in Greece.

Tsakiris’ Watson idea came from his time studying abroad in Denmark and a visit to the island of Samsø, which operates entirely on renewable energy.

“I had a bitterness towards how my island community was developing,” Tsakiris said. “It has become a tourist place for rich Greek people who bring their own attitude and a culture they like. I wanted something better and looking at a place where they have done what I wish to do, I knew that was possible.”

In an effort to develop a sustainable model for his own community, Tsakiris’ trip will take him, as of now, to Iceland to study geothermal energy, Sweden to research successful governmental support systems, Sardinia to study its similar geography and weather and New Zealand to study fishing techniques and youth activism. But the Watson itself is only the beginning of Tsakiris’ project. “I’m going to train myself in order to have an impact on my community and the biggest challenge is going to be after the Watson, not during the Watson,” Tsakiris said.
Tsakiris’ commitment to his project extends beyond the fellowship itself, something he believes was essential to the strength of his application.
“You do it for the sake of thinking about it, you do it for the sake of finding who you are and at the end of the story you have to forget you even submitted it… you don’t want to spend a bunch of time on something that doesn’t interest you just for the sake of the prize.”
The Office of Social Commitment also aims to connect students (in any year) with community based scholarships which range from the Davis Peace Project, which Ami Shrestha ’12 won this year, to the Goldwater Scholarship, recently awarded to Stephanie Cheung ’11.

Thomas Davis ’10 was also awarded a Fulbright on Thursday. Eight Grinnell students still await the final decision on their Fulbright applications.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *