The Office of Competitive Post-Graduate Fellowships is proud to announce that Serina Montero is a 2023-2024 Fulbright Finalist. She has been awarded an English Teaching Award (ETA) for Spain. Our office caught up with Serina to ask her a couple of questions about her experience with applying to Fulbright and what she has planned for her time in Spain.
Serina, what made you interested in applying for The Fulbright U.S. Student Program?
“One of the most significant motivating factors was that I never got to study abroad due to the pandemic. Living in a Spanish-speaking country for a year has always been on my list of things to do. I saw applying to Fulbright as a way to get that experience before I started my post-grad working life. Academically, I have always been a generalist. I love studying technology, art, politics, history, computer science, Spanish, you name it! After settling into my studies as an Interactive Multimedia major I felt as though I had to drop some of my other passions. Fulbright seemed like the perfect opportunity to reignite my passion for studying Spanish and pair it with my love of working with students.”
What would you advise students to do when applying for the scholarship?
“Find recommenders who are passionate about you and believe in you. Whether it’s a mentor, old boss, or professor, you have to find people who can say amazing things about you and who will give you useful critical feedback on your application. Be Specific! They want to hear your voice and your stories in your application to know you are a good fit for the program. For example, instead of saying you “love Spanish culture” talk about how you and your friends have watch parties for Real Madrid games. Specific details show care, consideration, and research. When you are finished, you should feel like you wrote an application that no one else could write. Start writing early. Applications are due in late September which can feel like a weird time since school JUST started. If you are considering applying, do yourself a favor and get as much done in the summer, it will massively lower your stress levels. Read every detail of the program you apply to. Fulbright varies from country to country and sometimes from city to city. It is important to thoroughly read the requirements, especially for the statement of grant purpose. You should make it easy for them to find all of the required elements because it ultimately makes it easier to pick you.”
Why should students apply for the Fulbright scholarships?
“I think Fulbright is a good fit for anyone who wants to pursue travel, education, research, diplomacy or the person who is not totally sure what to do after college. For me, it was an easy decision to apply because I love to travel, and I encourage anyone who has the same desire to apply. Even if you change your mind or choose to take a job in the fall, applying gives you a shot at this life-changing opportunity.”
What are some words of encouragement for individuals seeking any scholarship, what helped you the most during your process?
“I love the quote “What is for you can never be taken away from you”. There are so many instances when I thought I was the perfect fit for a job or a program and I didn’t get it or times when I know I nailed an application, yet I still got rejected. It can be hard to accept these outcomes, but what comforts me in those situations is knowing that if I did my best and it didn’t work out then it must not have been for me. This mindset is freeing because it helps me shake off the rejection and move on to the next opportunity.”
To learn more about applying to the U.S. Fulbright Program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed 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, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations, and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.”