Allegheny College student Allyson Wood has received a place on a Fulbright Summer Institute at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom through one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs operating worldwide.
The U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission is the only bilateral, transatlantic scholarship program, offering awards and summer programs for study or research in any field at any accredited U.S. or U.K. university.
Beginning in mid-June, Wood will take an intensive four-week course in field biology in Brighton, England. The seaside town, located on the country’s southern coast, offers rich opportunities for research.
“I hope it’s going to give me more confidence in being a scientist,” said Wood, an environmental science major and environmental writing minor. “It will be great to see how England approaches fieldwork. … The environment will likely be quite different from Meadville, which is the only place I’ve had field experience.”
Last summer, Wood conducted research on an invasive fish species in the French Creek watershed with Casey Bradshaw-Wilson, visiting assistant professor of environmental science. Bradshaw-Wilson was among three Allegheny faculty members who provided letters of recommendation and other support for Wood’s application to the Fulbright Summer Institute.
Wood’s faculty advisor, Assistant Professor of Environmental Science Benjamin Haywood, initially suggested she pursue the institute. And Patrick Jackson, nationally competitive awards advisor in the Allegheny Gateway, offered Wood guidance on the application process and feedback on her essays.
In her personal statement for the application, Wood wrote about her childhood desire to stay near her hometown of Clarence Center, New York, for the rest of her life.
“But I realized, if I actually wanted to accomplish what I wanted to do, I was going to have to branch out and go to college away from home,” she said, “and hop across the pond if I wanted to grow as a person and become a better scientist.”
Wood will begin her junior year at Allegheny in the fall, with longer-term plans to pursue a master’s degree in fishery science and a career in aquaculture. She sees the Fulbright Summer Institute as an important step along that path.
“I’m so unbelievably happy and humbled to have gotten this opportunity,” Wood said. “I’m just really thankful to everyone who helped me.”
Each year, the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission supports around 60 U.K. and U.S. undergraduate students to undertake a demanding academic and cultural summer program at leading institutions in the U.S. and U.K. The commission selects participants through a rigorous application and interview process.
In making these awards, the commission looks not only for academic excellence but a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright Program and a plan to give back to the recipient’s home country upon returning.
Fulbright Summer Institutes cover all participant costs. In addition, Fulbright summer participants receive a distinctive support and cultural education program including visa processing, a comprehensive pre-departure orientation, enrichment opportunities in country, a re-entry session and the opportunity to join alumni networks.
The U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission is part of the Fulbright program conceived by Senator J. William Fulbright in the aftermath of World War II to promote leadership, learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange. Award recipients and summer program participants will be the future leaders for tomorrow and support the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K.