The New School Celebrates 30-Year Streak of Fulbright Winners
When Valerie Kipnis, MFA Creative Writing, received a Fulbright Award this year, she extended a 30-year streak of New School students’ receiving this prestigious honor. Kipnis will be heading to Ukraine under a Fulbright Open Study/Research Award for her project Construction of Personal and National Identity through Language in Post-Euromaidan Ukraine. In addition, Angelica Calabrese, MA Anthropology ’21, has been selected as an alternate for the Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship to Italy for her project Life with Xylella: A Collaborative Investigation of Past, Present, and Future of Southern Italy’s Olive Groves.
The Fulbright Program is the largest and most robust international exchange program in the United States. Envisioned in the aftermath of World War II as a means of promoting cooperative exchange between the United States and other countries, it provides opportunities for students and professionals to engage in international graduate study, research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching around the world. The program awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.
The New School had its first Fulbright Award winner in 1949, with one participant studying French language and literature in France. Since then, more than 100 New School scholars have received grants, which have taken them to countries like Taiwan, Honduras, Mexico, France, Bangladesh, and New Zealand to conduct research in a wide range of disciplines — from environmental studies, international relations, and literature to world music, performance art, wind and string instrument performance, and printmaking.
According to Andrew Amadei, assistant director of Global Engagement and International Programs, The New School’s 30-year streak of Fulbright winners is an extraordinary achievement for an institution. “Nationally, applicants have a one in five chance of being selected for a Fulbright, and there are many institutions that don’t see any of their students get selected,” says Amadei. “Few institutions regularly have a pool of applicants who possess the strict academic, research, and personal characteristics that the grant demands. It’s a testimony to our students and alumni that the educational excellence of The New School is consistently recognized by such a prestigious program.”
Fulbright alum Tania Aparicio, a PhD Sociology student, used her 2018–2019 research grant to travel to Mexico and conduct a comparative study of film curatorship in arts organizations at the Cineteca Nacional (National Film Center) and the Museum of Modern Art film department. “After I secured access to conduct participant observation in Mexico thanks to my Fulbright, I was able to compete and obtain a curatorial internship at MoMA given the experience I had developed during my fieldwork in Cineteca Nacional. So Fulbright opened doors both in Mexico and the United States.”
Her involvement in the program didn’t stop after she returned to the United States. She’s now a Fulbright ambassador, representing the program at conferences, talks, events, and initiatives to help secure program funding from Congress. “This is a great honor, not only for the ability to advocate for the organization but to help others navigate the grant application and join the program,” says Aparicio. “During my time as a grantee and ambassador, besides completing research for my PhD, I met inspiring people who have become dear friends. This is one of the best aspects of the grant — the amazing community I have become a part of.”
As the Fulbright Program is designed as a cultural exchange, it doesn’t just send scholars outside the United States; it also brings in students from other countries to study at host institutions. “At The New School, we do see both sides of the program. We have foreign students who come here with funding and support from Fulbright that helps them pursue a graduate degree with us, with their tuition funded through the program,” says Amadei. “The program is designed to help create an international exchange, a cooperative exchange and build those relations between the United States and other countries.”
Helping facilitate the cultural exchange at The New School for both participants from the United States and abroad is Karl Ramos, senior associate director of Strategic Enrollment Management. Ramos is also a Fulbright alum, having completed an English teaching assistantship at Bülent Ecevit Üniversitesi in Turkey. “Annually I facilitate a Fulbright meet-and-greet event where current Fulbright fellows at The New School are able to network with Fulbright alumni from the greater New York City area. I’ve also hosted mini-campus luncheons inviting current New School Fulbright fellows to meet one another,” says Ramos. “In addition, the Fulbright Greater New York Chapter [of which Ramos is a board member] hosts the annual Fulbright Diplomatic Welcome Reception at the U.N. headquarters in New York City to celebrate and welcome current Fulbright students from The New School and from other institutions across the New York metro area, like NYU, Columbia, Fordham, and CUNY.”
As the primary Fulbright advisor on campus, Amadei is excited to see these opportunities for New School students and for the university to act as host for foreign scholars. “As an institution, The New School very proudly participates in Fulbright. We recognize the value of international exchange and that having international students present in our university community lends itself to academic and cultural exchanges and the enhanced opportunities that creates for learning, sharing ideas, and opening global perspectives.”