Students from all parts of the world cross masses of land to study in a graduate program at Kansas State University. Currently 19 international students’ gift of education is being supported by a Fulbright Fellowship.
The Fulbright program provides international students the opportunity to explore and engage with students and faculty in their field in a different cultural setting while undertaking a graduate experience at a U.S. university.
Fulbright scholars work, live with and learn from fellow students and faculty members during the fellowship at Kansas State University. The Fulbright program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction with students and faculty on an individual basis in the classroom and laboratory, or at social events. These experiences allow the Fulbright scholars to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs.
Nike Frans, a first year Fulbright scholar, is from Indonesia and in her first semester of the master of public health program where she is studying public health and nutrition. Some adjustments Fran has had to make, aside from the vigorousness of the graduate program, is identifying with the American culture.
“My favorite non-academic experience thus far was being able to experience Halloween,” said Nike Frans. “For the first time in my life, I saw people dressed up in costumes – it was certainly an experience I’ve never been part of. I’m excited to learn more about the American culture.”
Fulbright students are able to apply up to five U.S. universities that have their program of study available. The student then choses the university that is the right fit for them.
“There are very few programs that have a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) program with an emphasis on both public health and nutrition,” said Nike Frans. “I saw Kansas State University’s MPH program as an opportunity to increase my knowledge, because those areas are where I want to focus my research after I return to Indonesia.”
A fellow Fulbright scholar also from Indonesia, Rulianda Wibowo, is a doctoral student in his fourth and final year of graduate studies. Rulianda is studying agricultural economics and focusing on how farmers find optimum irrigation while they are at limited capacity.
Rulianda did not have a hard time adjusting to K-State and the Midwestern culture, because the K-State culture is often depicted as a hands on academic experience.
The Fulbright scholars admit that graduate studies is hard work and requires major dedication, but noted that there is always help available. K-State’s implicit “open door policy” with professors and their students give students ease when they come across a problem that is hard to solve on their own.
Rulianda works closely with his academic advisor, Nathan Hendricks, assistant professor in agricultural economics on a weekly basis.
“It’s amazing working with him because I respect him (Nathan Hendricks) a lot,” said Rulianda. “We have regular discussion time and I can meet with him anytime I want. He pushes me to be a better scholar, so I am very happy that he is my major professor.”
Upon graduation, Rulianda hopes to take his research experiences that he gained at K-State and apply them in Indonesia.
“We need more people to think about environmental economics in Indonesia,” said Rulianda. “I hope that I can share the knowledge and experiences that I gained here with Indonesian people. We may not have the infrastructure or technology that the United States has, but the ideological concepts can be replicated and applied across countries.”
When the K-State Fulbright scholars are not in the classroom or studying, they spend time with their families, fellow K-State graduate students and other K-State Fulbright scholars.
“I’ve been able to meet many people while studying at K-State and establish relationships from some of the most unique circumstances,” said Trias Mahmudiono a fourth year PhD candidate in public health and nutrition.
“When I first arrived in Manhattan, I needed to buy furniture for my apartment, so I went to a garage sale,” said Trias. “After spending way too much time deciding if I should buy an additional end table, the man who was selling the furniture, asked how I was going to get all the furniture back to my place. Not having a plan, Leo instantly offered to transport my furniture back to my apartment. Since that day, Leo and I have been friends.”
When the Fulbright international scholars complete their graduate degree, they will return to their home country prepared to provide insight and guidance to solve many of their countries most pressing problems and often assume leadership positions.
“Because of my experience studying at K-State under the Fulbright Program, I’ve been able to gain an unprecedented amount of information that will equip me to be a smarter scholar, more effective researcher and hopefully a better citizen for my country,” said Trias Mahmudiono.
Like our Fulbright scholars who are studying at K-State, students from the United States in their senior year or a graduate student can apply for a U.S. Fulbright Fellowship to study, teach or conduct research internationally for one academic year. Since the inception of the U.S. Fulbright program at Kansas State University in 1954, there have been 74 students who have received the fellowship and traveled to every continent except Antarctica.
Created by Senator J. William Fulbright in 1945, the Fulbright program is the largest U.S. exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. The program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. Learn more about the Fulbright program here.