2023-2024 Top Fulbright Producer graphicIn the 20 years since the Fulbright Program began announcing its top-producing colleges and universities, Hamilton has appeared on that list nearly every time.

In 2023-24, Hamilton was again recognized with six students selected for the U.S. Fulbright Student Program, operated by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The College’s success as a top Fulbright producer a testament to Hamilton students’ desire to continue asking questions and to expand their cultural horizons. It’s also due to the support they receive through the application process from faculty and Lisa Grimes and Ginny Dosch, current and former student fellowships coordinators.

More than 140 Hamilton seniors have been named Fulbright U.S. students since 2005-06. We asked a few of them how their Fulbright experiences impacted their lives and influenced their career choices.

Ishan Bhatia ’20
Biology Major
Fulbright Research grant to India

After a COVID-delayed experience, Bhatia conducted cancer research for five months in India at Tata Memorial Center in Mumbai. He was invited to join Dr. Gaurav Narula, a professor in pediatric oncology, on a team developing CAR T cell therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

What do you remember most about your Fulbright experience?
The people I worked with. My Fulbright mentor, Dr. Gaurav Narula, was one of the best mentors I have ever had and did a great job of not only supporting my research but also my bigger goals of becoming a physician. He also pushed me to be a part of the clinical trial and meet the patients I was creating the therapy for.

These moments were some of the most salient for me — seeing the children and how positive and upbeat they were after receiving their CAR-T cells, even in the wake of such a difficult diagnosis they had been fighting for so long. Their families were also very excited to meet me and hear about how the work I was doing was hopefully going to help other children get access to this incredible therapy. Meeting and working with patients and their families helped remind me of the reason I worked so hard in the lab and the reason I wanted to go to medical school — to help make a difference in patients’ lives.

How did your Fulbright experience influence your career path today?
As I am now in medical school and still doing oncology research and getting ready to start my clinical rotations, I think back to the special interactions I had with patients such as singing a song and dancing for a girl named Kavya who just received her CAR-T infusion, and the smile I was able to put on her face by being silly and goofy. Moments like these from my Fulbright motivate me to keep studying hard and working to become a physician, and make me excited for the years of clinical training I have ahead.

Emma Belanger ’20
Chinese and Russian Studies major
Fulbright research grant to Harbin, China

Belanger won a Fulbright to China to research the intersection of Chinese and Russian culture in Harbin, but COVID also interfered with her plans when the entire U.S.-China Fulbright partnership was terminated. She had to modify her research project and decided to look at the historical connection between China and the U.K., specifically the city of Birmingham, U.K.

How did you pivot to a new country and new research plan on short notice?
I kept the cultural and historical aspect but it was a huge challenge to change projects, mostly in terms of staying motivated to work on something that wasn’t in my original plan. I was able to find some really cool resources in Birmingham, like handwritten diaries from a local woman who visited China several times in the 19th century and donated all her diaries, including photos, to the Library of Birmingham, so that was a great research experience. In short, it was a challenge, but there are several great experiences that I definitely appreciated and took with me from the Fulbright.

How did your Fulbright experience influence what you’re doing now?
I went on my Fulbright in September 2021 and completed my research Fulbright in the U.K. almost a year later, in July of 2022, which inspired me to go back and do my master’s in translation studies. I just finished that up in September, and I’m now working as a marketing coordinator and localization consultant at a translation company in the U.K. 

The Fulbright had a really big impact on me in terms of deciding to stay in the U.K., where I now plan to hopefully work and live for a long time. I also completed a massive research project as a part of that, which was the confidence boost I needed to go ahead and do my MA the year after.

What else have you taken away from the experience?
What I remember most is the friendships I made with fellow Fulbrighters. Some of them still live in the U.K. and Europe, so I meet up with them from time to time, and it’s really nice and comforting to have that community here.

Katie Jickling ’15
Government major
Fulbright Research grant to Southern India

Jickling was an alumna, working as a journalist in 2021 when she received a Fulbright research grant to travel to Chennai in Southern India to study the efforts of two Protestant churches to build gender-inclusive leadership. Her project was a culmination of her long-held interests: supporting women and girls; faith and participating in a church; and journalism. 

What did you take away from your Fulbright experience?
The Fulbright research offered the chance for intellectual creativity and flexibility — to follow my academic and personal interests where they led. In practice, this meant spending hours reading, studying Tamil, and traipsing around South India to speak with fascinating activists and academics. The focus on cultural immersion alongside academic research meant that exploring temples and eating dosas and meeting new people were part of my work rather than a distraction from it. 

What from your experience has influenced you/your work today?
I’m doing a research master’s in theology at KU Leuven in Belgium now and using the research I conducted in India, so I’m still thinking deeply about the interviews I conducted with feminist Christian activists. These women’s stories and their audacity continue to challenge and animate me. Broadly speaking, Fulbright encouraged me to consider and pursue the niche topics that spark my curiosity and imagination. ... I try to continue to embrace that ethos even in a more traditional academic setting here in Belgium.

Henry Shuldiner ’19
Literature major
Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to Colombia

What do you remember most about your Fulbright in Colombia?
I fondly remember my colleagues — the other professors at the university where I was placed. They played a pivotal role in my Fulbright journey, becoming good friends and mentors, offering valuable insights into teaching English, and constantly helping me navigate Spanish, which at the time I was proficient in but still needed a lot of work to improve. Above all, they made me feel welcomed from day one, setting a positive tone for my entire experience.

I also remember living in Villavicencio. It exposed me to a completely different way of life. Eating exotic fruit, taking in landscapes I never could have imagined, or making friendships with people who know nothing about where I came from or what my background was. A lot of this was sometimes scary and hard, but I grew to love the feeling of constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone. I was able to grow immensely from that: drastically improving my Spanish, understanding cultural differences, and reconciling my own attitudes or opinions with those prevalent not only in Colombia but specifically in the unique subculture of “los llanos,” (the plains) where I resided.

How has anything you learned while on your Fulbright influenced you today?
Fulbright opened my eyes to a world where I wasn’t just going to live in New York or DC or some other big city after I graduated. It led me to the realization that I wanted to live and work abroad for the foreseeable future. It provided me with clarity regarding what I wanted to study in graduate school [international relations].

In graduate school, I was lucky enough to find a mentor, a professor who was an expert in security in Latin America, who was happy to find a student who had lived in Colombia and was interested in similar topics. She helped set me up with various internships, including one for the job I am currently working. I see this all as a direct product of my Fulbright experience.

The department (Colombia’s version of state) where I lived, Meta, was once a stronghold of the FARC, a leftist guerrilla group engaged in a decades-long conflict with the Colombian government. But the FARC and Colombian government came to a peace agreement in 2016. Witnessing firsthand the implementation (or lack thereof) of the peace accord in Meta was eye-opening. I saw just how complex post-conflict reconstruction was. It was a unique learning experience unlike anything I had encountered before. The challenges of demobilizing a formidable guerrilla force deeply entrenched in rural areas, coupled with their control over the global cocaine trade to fund their cause, seemed like an intractable problem and one that had no easy solutions to find long-lasting solutions that will bring peace/security to civilians.

I think seeing this firsthand drove my curiosity and eventually guided me into graduate school, and continues to drive my work today. I am currently working as an investigator at InSight Crime, a think tank and media organization focused on covering security issues, organized crime, corruption, and human rights throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. My current role allows me to study into the intricacies of armed groups and organized crime in Colombia, with a keen focus on their impact on civilians and broader domestic and foreign policies. Through my work, I always hope to contribute to the discourse and shed light on these issues, both for Colombian and Latin American/US/European readers.  

I’ll always will be grateful to Fulbright for allowing me to develop and grow this interest, eventually letting me return to Colombia, where I have been living for the past two years.  There is no way I would be where I am today without having done my Fulbright in 2019.

Lisa Grimes

Student Fellowships Coordinator

Student Fellowship Advising

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international academic exchange program. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided over 400,000 talented and accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds with the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. Fulbrighters — as the program refers to them — exchange ideas, build people-to-people connections, and work to address complex global challenges.

Student Fellowship Coordinator Lisa Grimes guides students through the application process for undergraduate and postgraduate study, travel, research, and independent projects.

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