Three Ducks earn Fulbright grants to teach and research abroad

Three Ducks will be making a trek across the pond soon — two to Germany and one to Iceland — to teach and research as part of the U.S. Fulbright Grant Program.

The 2015 University of Oregon Fulbright grant recipients are recent graduates Shireen Farahani and Sarah Martin, along with doctoral student Jerilynn “M” Jackson of the UO Department of Geography.

Recipients are selected for their academic and professional achievements as well as their leadership potential in their chosen fields. Typically, between one and five UO students receive the grant each year, said Luis Ruiz, assistant director of Global Education Oregon.

“There tends to be somewhere between 10 and 20 total applicants per year from the UO for the student award,” Ruiz said. “Their interest, their country selection and whether they’re doing research or studying or teaching really goes all over the board.”

Martin, a German language major who graduated this spring, is going to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany to teach at the high school level. She’ll spend about 12 hours a week in the classroom teaching a bilingual history course as well as helping with linguistics and English lessons.

“I’m really excited to be there in a professional setting,” Martin said. “The Fulbright helps me start a future that I didn’t necessarily see for myself four years ago — and in a different country. It opens up all these opportunities to live and work abroad.”

Farahani, a linguistics major who graduated from the university in 2014, also will be teaching in Germany. She’ll be living and working a few hours south from Martin, in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

For Jackson, this is her second Fulbright; the first took her to the Black Sea port city of Samsun in Turkey. This time around, however, she’ll be traveling to the fishing village of Höfn, Iceland, to study glaciers — Iceland has the largest in Europe — and how climate change affects communities nearby, as part of her doctoral research.

“For me, to receive a second Fulbright grant is validating to my research and the path I’m on. It feels like there are a lot of people out there who believe in me and the work I do,” Jackson said. “The Icelandic people have a really strong relationship with their landscape, and that landscape is changing as the glaciers recede. I hope to understand how such rapid change is culturally processed.”

The Fulbright program, sponsored by the federal government, operates in more than 160 countries across the globe and has given approximately 36,000 students, teachers, scholars, artists and scientists the opportunity to teach, research or study abroad since its inception almost 70 years ago. The trips typically last about 10 months.

The UO Fulbright recipients are three out of around 1,900 recipients selected each year by the national commission. While the grant program is highly competitive, it is an opportunity for recipients to continue their academic work or jump-start their professional careers.

“It’s really meaningful to be supported by this prestigious award that’s recognized worldwide,” Ruiz said. “It’s a very collaborative and cross-cultural program in the spirit of what the students want to do.”

Academics and professionals have until Aug. 3 to submit applications for next year’s grant program. More information is available here.

— By Nathaniel Brown, Public Affairs Communications intern