A banner year: 37 Whitties earn prestigious fellowships, scholarships and grants; seven receive Fulbright awards

June 26, 2012

Results keep trickling in for Whitman students who applied for fellowships, scholarships and grants, and by all accounts it has been a highly successful year, particularly for Fulbright recipients.

In total, 37 Whitman students and alumni to date have received prestigious national and international awards. Many more are alternates and finalists, and some are still awaiting word.

“Whitman students and alumni achieved tremendous successes across the board this year,” said Keith Raether, director of fellowships and grants. “Their achievements obviously reflect a root cellar of talent. But they also indicate enormous initiative, focus and sense of purpose.”

Of Whitman’s 19 Fulbright applicants this year, 12 are national finalists. There are seven Fulbright recipients and two alternates for the 2011-12 academic year. Last year, the Fulbright program commended Whitman for producing five Fulbright award recipients.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright award provides funding for recipients to undertake research grants, grants in creative/performing arts or English teaching assistantships in countries across the world. Since 1999, Whitman has produced 63 Fulbright recipients.

“The quality of the college’s Fulbright applicants and what they’ve made of learning opportunities at Whitman and in the world is underscored by the fact that nearly two-thirds of them were either recipients, alternates or national finalists,” said Raether.  “All seven recipients will be outstanding cultural ambassadors.”

While most of Whitman’s Fulbright recipients were notified of their status in April or May, two alternates, Seth Bergeson ’10 and Matt Hanson ’12, only recently found out they had been selected as recipients.

They will travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina and New Zealand, respectively, to teach and conduct research. Bergeson is one of only two people in the country to receive a Fulbright teaching assistantship to Bosnia-Herzegovina; Hanson is one of only 10 to receive a research award to New Zealand.

Hanson, a chemistry and geology major from Sandy, Utah will study the chemical nature of a hydrothermal system in the North Island of New Zealand in hopes of better understanding and implementing geothermal energy.

“New Zealand is one of the leading countries in geothermal energy, which is an interesting and pertinent realm within geology considering the challenges associated with global climate change,” Hanson said. “My long-term plan is to teach geology at the colligate level, and the Fulbright is continuing my education and setting me up for industrial experience, which I feel are important things to bring to the classroom.”

In addition to New Zealand and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Whitman Fulbright recipients soon will set out for India, Nepal, Germany and Turkey.

—Gillian Frew '11