Parents who want to send a child to a black college know they have to look south, but if they prefer one that will also offer a good opportunity for international exposure, the right school may not be as far away as they might think.
The black college that has produced the most students who win a Fulbright fellowship, the prestige program of international exchanges, is not Howard, or Hampton University in Virginia, or Morehouse College or Spelman College in Atlanta, or any other private school.
The top producer is Morgan State University, a state school in Baltimore. Since the Fulbright program began in 1946, 120 Morgan students have won awards to conduct research or teach English in 30 different countries from Jamaica to New Zealand.
During the last 14 years, Morgan has continued to lead black colleges in Fulbright students, ahead of Howard and then Spelman. The selective women’s college in Atlanta, though, has been the top producer in each of the last three years.
What’s behind Morgan’s success? A robust program to identify, cultivate and guide prospective applicants that was the creation of a single individual, Sandye Jean McIntyre II.
McIntyre joined Morgan’s faculty in 1951 after going to France on a Fulbright grant, and served as the Fulbright adviser on campus for 55 years until his death in 2006. He served in that capacity longer than anyone at any college, according to the State Department, which sponsors the exchange program for graduating seniors and graduate students.
“During his historic tenure, for more than a half century, Morgan State University students received more Fulbright awards, by far, than any other historically black college or university in the nation,” Thomas Farrell, deputy assistant secretary of state for academic programs, wrote in a 2006 letter to Morgan President Earl S. Richardson.
Carleen S. Leggett, who began working with McIntyre in 1968 and succeeded him as the campus adviser, acknowledged some people are surprised to learn of Morgan’s record in spinning out Fulbrighters.
“They kind of think of Howard” because of its name recognition, she said. “For a long time, it wasn’t emphasized there. Morgan had the advantage of having someone who was so dedicated.”
In an era when all business is global, the experience of living in another country, learning its culture and perhaps its language is an asset when a college graduate enters the job market.
For that reason, some parents encourage their children to learn a second language and study abroad for a semester or year at a college in another country. Technically, the Fulbright program is not a study abroad program, though that experience makes an applicant more competitive. Leggett says at least a B average is almost a requirement.
Most Fulbright students spend an academic year attached to a host college overseas doing a research project of their own design. Others serve as assistants teaching English in a school. At a yearlong program at American University in Cairo, students learn Arabic, language skills in great demand at this time.
Leggett says going on a Fulbright can be “a life-changing experience” that provides “a variety of benefits.”(p2)
Established in 1946, the Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the U.S. and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills. The program provides funding for students, scholars and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and teaching in elementary and secondary schools. More »
Ossama Abdel Meguid, the founding director of the world’s only museum devoted solely to Nubia, came to Boston as a Fulbright Scholar three years ago to pore over research at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. More »
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