Have you ever thought about taking teaching English overseas? Or living in a different country for a year? If you have ever thought about these, applying to the Fulbright Program might be for you!

In 1945, Senator J. William Fulbright introduced a bill to the U.S. Congress that would fund the “promotion of international goodwill through the exchange of students in the fields of education, culture, and science.” The next year, President Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law, thus creating the Fulbright Program. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is the largest U.S. exchange program which offers research, study, and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduate and graduate students.

The Fulbright grant has two different types—Study/Research Grant and the English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). The ETA places grantees in approximately 75-80 countries serving as an English teaching assistant to native speakers of that country. While grantees are not required to have a background in education or teaching, they are required to get involved in the community. 

Joanna Pak

Recent Chapman graduate, Joanna Pak, decided to apply to the ETA Fulbright in Korea. Pak admitted that she applied for the Critical Language Scholarship last year but wasn’t accepted into the program. However, this didn’t stop her from wanting to go abroad which pushed her to apply for the Fulbright. 

The Fulbright scholarship is open to those who have a conferred Bachelor’s Degree before the start of the grant which includes recent graduates, graduating seniors, and graduate students. 

These criteria matched Pak’s status as she graduated from Chapman in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Health Sciences. Drawing on her personal experiences, Pak chose Korea because she understands the difficulties in learning a new language, especially being Korean-American and having a speech impediment. 

Similarly, Salma Sebt, a current senior, also applied for the ETA but in France. Sebt grew up attending an international French school and grew an affinity for French culture. She is majoring in Philosophy and French while minoring in Peace Studies, which has also influenced her desire to go abroad. 

Salma Sebt

Her decision to apply for the ETA instead of the Research/Study Grant was because she saw more room for personal and professional growth and development. “In my years at Chapman, I’ve noticed the importance and value of taking any opportunity that can impact non-academic experience as well.”

Both Pak and Sebt reached out to Dr. Julye Bidmead, the director of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence (CUE) as their first steps in applying for the Fulbright scholarship. Typically the timeline for starting the application process starts late Spring, and applicants will work on their essay drafts during the summer. Chapman requires all applicants to submit essays by September, which is earlier than the official deadline. This allows time for a pre-screening interview with 3-4 Chapman professors to provide constructive feedback on their application materials. 

“This gives you time to go over what they said, all the revisions you need to make and bounce off ideas. That is where a lot of the revisions happened,” explained Pak. 

This is only the first round of the application process, applicants will know if they’ve made it to the next round in early Spring. At this point, applicants are considered semi-finalists and are notified sometime between March and June. Over the past 10 years, Chapman University had 20 students be awarded the Fulbright scholarship. 

Sebt encourages students who may be interested in the Fulbright, or another opportunity, to “go for it because the costs of going for it and not working out is virtually nothing compared to the benefit you could receive.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about the ETA grant or other Fulbright opportunities, please visit the official Fulbright website here.  Contact Dr. Bidmead at cue@chapman.edu for more assistance on applying. 

Interested in other scholarship and grant opportunities?

Check out our Scholarships/Fellowships page on the CUE website.

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