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Boise State’s 2019-20 Fulbright Scholarship fellows set a new state record

Photo by Emma Thompson

Five Boise State students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships for 2019-20 and their accomplishments break the existing record among Idaho universities for the most Fulbright grantees in one year. The scholarship offers students opportunities to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, or primary and secondary school teaching worldwide.

This year’s Fulbrighters are Olivia Bates, Connor Dennis, Daniel Hopkins, Jacob Pintar and Willow True. Each grantee will be embarking across the globe on an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) grant. Julia Donegan, a political science major, was named an alternate to Bulgaria; she is eligible for the award this year if one becomes available.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fulbright Program was suspended for all U.S. participants of the 2019-20 session and delayed for the upcoming year. The Boise State ETAs will begin their grants in January 2021.

“This record-breaking class of Fulbrighters extends a remarkable streak of awards, and offers yet another indicator of how well Boise State students compete at a national level,” said Andrew Finstuen, Honors College dean. “These achievements reflect their hard work and talent and that of the faculty and staff that mentored them throughout their studies.”

With the assistance of Boise State’s Fellowship Advising Office, 21 graduate and undergraduate students have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships in the past nine years.

“I recommend that all Boise State students study abroad and seek out international opportunities. You will open so many doors for yourself.” – Connor Dennis, 2019-20 Fulbrighter

Olivia Bates, 2019-20 Fulbrighter

Olivia Bates, an elementary education major, was assigned to rural Indonesia. Bates is finishing her student teaching in Donnelly, Idaho, and is eager to engage with rural communities abroad.

“My leadership positions in the diverse communities of the Honors College, the Teacher Education Ambassadors and as a Near Peer in a developing research program through the College of Education have given me the tools and motivation to pursue learning in any opportunity,” she said. “In Indonesia, I will be able to continue following my passion for exploring new experiences and striving for growth in both character and education.”

Connor Dennis, 2019-20 Fulbrighter

History major Connor Dennis plans to travel to Taiwan once travel restrictions are lifted. In addition to teaching English there, Dennis aims to support the community through service projects.

“After studying abroad in the spring of 2018 in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I knew I wanted to pursue international education post graduation,” he said.

When he returned from Thailand, Dennis worked at the Boise State Center for Global Education for two years as a peer adviser helping fellow students plan their study abroad experiences. Those experiences prepared him for the competitive Fulbright application process.

“However, I would have never come close to achieving this without the help of my professors at Boise State and my adviser Kate Huebschmann,” he said. “I recommend that all Boise State students study abroad and seek out international opportunities. You will open so many doors for yourself.”

Daniel Hopkins, 2019-20 Fulbrighter

Daniel Hopkins will teach in the Netherlands. He graduated from Boise State in spring 2019 with a degree in history, political science and secondary education.

“The education portion of my major has helped me prepare for the majority of what I’ll be doing in the Netherlands – teaching – but the history and political science portion taught me how to write effectively and concisely. That was extremely helpful in writing my application,” he said.

Hopkins is looking forward to applying what he learns abroad in classrooms in the U.S.

Jacob Pintar, 2019-20 Fulbrighter

Jacob Pintar was awarded a grant to Bulgaria to serve in a high school and assist with the growth of its English-speaking debate program. He graduated from Boise State with a bachelor’s degree in political science and an economics minor. As an undergraduate, Pintar studied abroad in Israel and spent a semester of peer mentoring, both of which prepared him for this achievement.

“Studying abroad in Israel gave me the opportunity to not only experience a significant difference in culture, but to teach conversational English at an Arab elementary school,” he said. “I am prepared and thankful for the coming year of changes, challenges and memories.”

Willow True, 2019-20 Fulbrighter

Willow True is graduating in May with a degree in elementary education, with an emphasis in teaching English as a new language. She also was assigned to the Netherlands.

“The past four years at Boise State have taught me a lot about what it means to be a teacher and the significance of cross-cultural communication,” she said. “I look forward to having the opportunity to take my education to the Netherlands and learn from my new colleagues. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.”

Along with the student awards, Boise State faculty and local K-12 educators have been selected to participate in a Fulbright-Hays Title VI Group Project Abroad through the Center for Global Education. Participants will travel as a group to Taichung, Taiwan, in June 2021 for four weeks and engage in a language and cultural immersion experience at Providence University.

Faculty selected for this program include Shoko Asay, an adjunct instructor of Japanese; Iryna Babik, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Science; Anne Hamby, an assistant professor in the Department of Marketing; Marisa Hill, a lecturer in the Department of Communication and Media; Renee Walters, a clinical associate professor in the School of Nursing; and Pei-Lin Yu, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology. You can learn more about the participants here.

“This was a competitive grant application process and Iryna’s passion in this field will ultimately benefit our students, as her goal is to develop course abroad opportunities for current and future psychology majors,” said Eric Landrum, professor and chair of the psychological science department, in regards to Babik’s achievement.

Since its formation in 2014, the Fellowship Advising Office, based in the Honors College, has assisted more than 110 students from a variety of majors in submitting national fellowship applications, with a 25 percent acceptance rate. Learn more about the Fulbright U.S. Student Program here or contact the Fellowship Advising Office.