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Vassar Named Top Fulbright Producer–Again

Vassar College has been named a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright Fellowships for 2019-20, the U.S. State Department announced.

Each year the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) announces the top producing institutions for the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program. The Chronicle of Higher Education published the list today. Vassar was recognized in the B.A. Institution category.

Seven Vassar graduates were awarded Fulbright Fellowships for the current academic year and are currently studying or conducting research overseas. They are Mikayla Brennan-Burke ’17 (Greece), Howyu Chung ’18 (Taiwan), Lars Odland ’17 (Czech Republic), Mandy Chin ’18 (Taiwan), Nicolas Gedigk ’19 (Republic of Korea), Sino Esthappan ’16 (Netherlands), and Savannah Smith’19  (Cameroon).

Smith said Vassar had prepared her well for her Fulbright experience. “My professors and the college librarians were amazing resources for me during the application process,” she said, and the Fellowship Office does a good job hosting information sessions to discuss opportunities, the application components and deadlines. My previous time abroad helped prepare me for being out of the country again. Vassar’s language instruction gave me a solid foundation, and the Africana Studies and Political Science programs taught me how to conduct research and think critically about the world.”

Fulbright recipients Nicolas Gedigk and Savannah Smith Photo: Karl Rabe

Vassar President Elizabeth Bradley congratulated the students, faculty and staff for the recognition. “We like to set the bar for academic excellence, and being recognized as a Top Producing Institution for Fulbright Fellowships is a tribute to not only our students but also the faculty who have inspired them,” Bradley said. “I am thankful to Assistant Dean of Studies Lisa Kooperman and her team in the Office of Fellowships and Prehealth Advising for their support through the application process. Congratulations to all!”

Kooperman noted Vassar has been namd a Top Producer for each of the past 13 years, and she said the college was proud to receive such recognition. “The Fulbright program is one of the most accessible programs to U.S. students; they can apply virtually from any field and go almost anywhere,” she said. “It's for this reason that I think so many Vassar alumnae/i put an application forward in the competition. While we have had the honor of being on the list of top producing colleges for many years, it is never a given and always a wonderful accolade to receive. And regardless of the outcome, every applicant feels that going through the process of applying is a beneficial one.”

Marie Royce, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, noted that the institutions that received Top Producing recognition reflect the diversity of higher education in the United States. “We are committed to the Fulbright Program’s goals of creating lasting professional and personal connections by sending passionate and accomplished U.S. students of all backgrounds to study, research, or teach English in communities throughout the world,” Royce said. “These Fulbrighters serve as citizen ambassadors for the United States in their host communities, and we will benefit from the skills, knowledge, and global connections they build on their exchanges long after they return home.”

The Fulbright Program was created to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Over 2,200 U.S. Students and over 900 U.S. college and university faculty and administrators are awarded Fulbright grants annually. In addition, some 4,000 Fulbright Foreign Students and Visiting Scholars come to the United States annually to study, lecture, conduct research, or teach their native language.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given over 390,000 passionate and accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to important international problems. The global network of Fulbrighters fosters mutual understanding between the United States and partner nations, advances knowledge across communities, and improves lives around the globe. 

Fulbright is active in more than 160 countries worldwide and partners with participating governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States. Many of these organizations also provide direct and indirect support. ECA sponsors the Fulbright program, and several non-profit, cooperative partners implement and support the program on the Bureau’s behalf. For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit