Hunter produces high number of Fulbrights yet again

Three recent Hunter graduates are set to be awarded the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship. Darsen Hover, Kevin Tang and Bressni Neary were recently notified of their grants. An official announcement is pending. 

Fulbright Scholarships grant students money to teach and conduct research in foreign countries. It also includes a service requirement wherein the student interacts with the community where they do their work. Last year’s winners included the following students: 

  • Eleni Katechis, a graduate of Hunter’s masters program in education, traveled to Taiwan.  
  • Maria Malizia, another graduate of Hunter’s masters program in education, headed to Italy 
  • Marielle Ray, a 2017 Hunter graduate, use her grant to travel to Argentina to teach English after receiving mentorship from Argentinian professors during her time in the Macaulay Honors College. 
  • Ardit Marku, an Albanese immigrant who moved to New York speaking no English, moved to South Korea to teach non-English speakers his adopted language.  
  • 2018 Hunter Valedictorian Michael Mazzeo traveled to Spain to teach. Before leaving, he hoped to instruct at the high school level. 
  • Victoria DiTomasso, a Macauley graduate and the lone recipient using the grant to further her studies, w
    A student inquires about the Fulbright Scholarship

    ent to Germany to work with the Liebniz Institute for Astrophysics Postdam studying the galaxy’s most distant visible stars.  

Fulbright’s online database, which dates back 10 years, shows that with the exception of 2013-2014 when it fell to 31st place, Hunter was a top-20 ranking producer of Fulbright Scholars every year since 2009. 

2019 looks to be another banner year for Hunter, as three unannounced students have received the scholarship and three more await their status as alternates. 

Stephen Lassonde, who recently took over the Office of Prestigious Scholarships, believes that Hunter has many unique qualities that make it an ideal breeding ground for Fulbright Scholars. “Our success in general has to do with the fact that we have a talented student body and we have talented faculty,” Lassonde says.   

Due to the nature of the grant, there is a language fluency requirement for all applicants. Lassonde believes that Hunter’s high rate of heritage speakers, or “students whose primary language is something other than English,” as he puts it, effectively positions students to qualify for the scholarship. “Many of our students are multilingual,” he says, “and that makes a huge difference.” 

Hunter students receive various forms of preparation throughout their studies. Lassonde noted that faculty members often take notice of individual student and choose to mentor them. He hosts a biannual writing workshop to teach students how to write personal statements, an essential skill when applying for any type of grant or scholarship. There is also an email chain that students can sign up for to keep them in the loop regarding any information sessions or workshops pertaining to their desired scholarship. 

The Office of Prestigious Scholarships takes great care to nurture each applicant’s needs during the stages prior to application. “I meet with every student who applies for these major fellowships,” said Lassonde. “I coach them through the process and I give them feedback on their applications. I help them understand what’s unusual about themselves.” 

Lassonde is hoping to hire a staff member to focus exclusively on Fulbright applicants. Hunter’s production of these applicants has reached a rate at which the focus of one person would be an injustice to them. The office is adapting as the students’ interest increases, a step sure to keep Hunter in the realm of top producers for years to come.  

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