Amid social distancing and coronavirus scares, senior Lydia Narum received uplifting news on March 30. An email from the Slovak Republic indicated that she was one of the few students across the country to receive a Fulbright Fellowship.
Narum is a senior at Salisbury University who majors in biology with a double minor in English and athletic coaching.
The fellowship consists of a ten-month grant where Narum will be an English teacher assistant at a secondary sports school in Kožušnícka Trenčín, Slovakia.
The senior had no idea what a Fulbright Fellowship was until she spoke with her friend Lauren DeLong, who currently has a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany.
DeLong told Narum that she would be a perfect candidate for the fellowship and got her in touch with Kristen Walton, who is the director of the Nationally Competitive Fellowships Office at SU.
Narum searched through all the programs that Fulbright had to offer, and when she came across the Slovak Republic, she was drawn to apply.
As a biology major, Narum felt like she was a good fit for Slovakia because that program was looking specifically for STEM students.
Once looking into the Slovak Republic more, she felt very connected to the beauty of the country, admiring the mountain ranges and castles.
“I fell in love with the country,” Narum said.
Then she began her application in the late spring of her junior year. Typically, students start applications much earlier, but Narum worked hard over the summer to complete it.
All the hours were worth it when on Jan. 22, she received a notification that she had been named a semi-finalist for her fellowship.
“I started crying. I couldn’t believe I got semifinalist,” Narum said.
A fateful two months passed, and Narum found out that she had received the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship.
This opportunity is one that will greatly impact Narum’s life. She is confident that teaching English will help prepare her for her future career.
She hopes to one day be a genetics counselor.
“I understand the biology part,” the senior said. “It’s like a first language to me.”
Having to teach someone a new language is very much like having to translate biology terms into a language that the general population can comprehend.
The fellowship will be a beneficial experience in more than just preparing Narum for the future. It will also fulfill her lifelong goal to travel and learn about other cultures.
Narum recognizes that being exposed to new cultures and pushing personal comfort boundaries is a great way to grow as an individual.
She plans to do both this fall.
Narum is incredibly grateful for the opportunity that she has and recommends that all students should look into applying for a Fulbright.
The Fulbright Fellowship was of interest to her because the application process is not GPA-heavy or grade-reliant.
As a student with dyslexia, Narum found that the Fulbright took more into account than just her test scores or GPA.
“They look at you as a whole person. I have dyslexia, so I don’t always shine on a report card,” Narum said. “My application showed that I’m more than a GPA.”
By ANNIE GEITNER
Image from Fulbright Slovak Republic Facebook.