SPRINGFIELD, Ohio - Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has recognized leadership potential in more than 255,000 individuals around the globe. That number recently increased by two as Wittenberg University seniors Amanda Oleson and Bridget Mullan were invited to join the elite list of 2003 recipients.
Oleson, a history major and German minor from Elida, Ohio, plans to study in Salzburg, Austria, where she will focus on an organization called the Salzburg Seminar, also referred to as the "Marshall Plan for the Mind." Following World War II, the U.S. Army occupied Salzburg, and the seminar was located next to the Army's headquarters, Oleson explained.
"I intend to explore the relationship between the seminar and the Army, examining the degree to which the seminar helped to indoctrinate the Austrian people in democracy and capitalism," she said.
The Fulbright award provides funding for Oleson to live in Salzburg from the end of September until the end of June 2004. The cost of tuition to the university will also be waived, and Oleson will receive a travel grant. As part of the package, she will also work as an English language assistant at an Austrian secondary school.
"I was excited and honored when I received the news," said Oleson, who previously studied in Salzburg from January 2001 to August 2002 during her junior year at Wittenberg. "My excitement at the thought of going back to Salzburg is difficult to put into words."
In Austria, Oleson will again live with the same host family she lived with during her study abroad experience. "The bond I developed with them, especially my host sister who is only one year younger than me, is incredible."
Oleson transferred to Wittenberg from Indiana University after her freshman year and completed her graduation requirements in December 2002 at Wittenberg, a place she credits for much of her success.
"The Wittenberg experience, including my time in Austria, shaped me into an entirely new person," Oleson said, adding that German professors Timothy Bennett and David Barry along with history professor Joseph O'Connor were instrumental in encouraging her as were numerous others in both departments.
"The preparation at Wittenberg has given me the necessary skills and confidence to carry out my Fulbright project," she said, and "I feel both fortunate and honored to join the distinguished group of individuals who are able to call themselves Fulbright scholars."
Mullan, a double major in early childhood education and German from Williamsville, N.Y., plans to study in Germany, where she will explore the topic of practical language acquisition through teaching with the hopes of refining her instructional approach in order to facilitate such acquisition.
"I will be working as a teaching assistant, helping to teach English to German students in grades seven through 12," Mullan said. Although not officially placed yet, she hopes to teach at the Martin-Luther-Gymnasium in Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany, where she previously studied with eight other Wittenberg students for four weeks in the summer of 2002. A Gymnasium is a secondary school that prepares students for German universities.
Like Oleson, Mullan's time of study is also fully funded by the Fulbright Program and will extend from September 2003 through the end of June 2004. "Winning a Fulbright scholarship is an incredible honor, which provides me with the opportunity to share the American culture with others while improving my ability to speak and comprehend German," Mullan said. "I'm very excited to be returning to Germany."
Mullan, who will graduate this Saturday, May 17, never studied the German language before she arrived at Wittenberg. Once here, though, she said she "fell in love" with the language thanks to the contagious enthusiasm for the subject shared by Wittenberg German professors Bennett and Barry. "Without the two of them, I would have simply finished the required two semesters of German, and my future would not have included the slightest prospect of a Fulbright scholarship."
Both Mullan and Oleson are considering teaching following their study overseas. Mullan plans to pursue a master's degree in education and/or German, while Oleson is debating between a Ph.D. in modern European history with plans to teach at the college level or a career in international relations with a focus in international law.
Also honored by the Fulbright program were senior Carolyn Emigh from Walla Walla, Wash., who was selected as an alternate, and senior Theodore Jackson from St. Paris, Ohio, who was selected as a finalist in the competition.
Since 1995, at least eight Wittenberg students have received prestigious Fulbright scholarships, joining the long list of prominent Fulbright alumni, including Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, author Jonathan Franzen, opera singer Renee Fleming and other leading Americans in all fields.