Fulbright recipients travel the globe

By Gus Bode

Sameer Vohra applied to be a Fulbright scholar, knowing he wanted to study abroad in India because of his heritage.

Vohra said he went through a rigorous application process starting with three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and a grant proposal – this got him past the first round of applications.

Vohra said after the final phase of the application process, nearly seven months later, he received a grant from both the Indian and American governments.


‘With this longing to understand the land of my ancestors, I (hope) to spend this year in India (studying) my heritage and giving back to the country that gave so much to my parents,’ Vohra said.

According to the Council for International Exchange of Scholars Web site, Fulbright is an international program sponsored by the United States Congress that allows participants opportunities to study, teach and conduct research abroad. Fulbright scholars receive individual and institutional grants, and have many different avenues of study to choose from.’

Vohra grew up in Westmont and recently completed his fifth year of a medical and law degree, and when he returns, he will be finishing his final year at SIUC.

This year, the university received 28 new Fulbright scholars – seven more than last year – from every continent but Antarctica, said Carla Coppi, interim director of International Programs and Services. Along with the continuing students, SIUC has more than 65 students receiving Fulbright grants, she said.

‘When I was 18 or 25, I would never have had the courage to come thousands of miles to study abroad,’ Coppi said. ‘They can’t visit their families on the weekend.’

Tom Saville, associate director for study abroad, keeps track of all incoming and outgoing scholars. Including Vohra, the Fulbright program has sent six SIUC students to places such as India, Iceland, Taiwan, Germany and Romania, he said.

In addition to the rise in Fulbright scholars, the university is waiting on applications to come through for the Iraqi initiative – a federal program that would allow Iraqis to study on campus at a tuition rate close to the resident rate, said Larry Dietz, vice chancellor of Student Affairs.’


Coppi said she is excited for the Iraqi initiative to be underway. They are reviewing thousands of applications in Washington, she said.’ Coppi said she expects the university to have 50 Iraqi students by January.

‘We’ve had international students on this campus for 63 years, but our first international student was from Iraq.’

Coppi said she urges students to get involved with International Programs and Services if they are interested in studying overseas. Like Vohra, students can continue their educations while increasing their perspective of the world.

‘Despite only being in India for one month, I have gained an incredible new perspective for the human spirit . . . people in India persevere because they don’t have any other option. This, more than anything, has taught me great humility,’ Vohra said.