Nottingham graduates head to elite US universities thanks to prestigious Fulbright Scholarships

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06 Sep 2018 14:32:22.973

The University of Nottingham has produced the highest number of Fulbright Scholarship awardees for postgraduate study for the 2018-19 academic year.

The exciting news was announced after the Fulbright Commission recently issued its final scholarship selections for British students and scholars to study, lecture and/or research in the United States.

Four out of the 39 exchange participants, who will travel to the US this summer, are University of Nottingham graduates, and the full contingent includes postgraduates, visiting lecturers, researchers and other professionals across a wide range of disciplines.

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Now in its 70th year, the Fulbright Commission aims to promote intercultural understanding between the US and the UK through educational exchange, including through its scholarship programme. The Commission selects scholars through a rigorous application and interview process, looking for academic excellence alongside a focussed application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright Programme and a plan to give back to the UK upon returning.

The University of Nottingham cohort — Charlotte Balnave, Joti Desour, Isabel Straw and Emma Vickers — left for the US in late August and headed to their designated elite US universities.

Charlotte Balnave (Bachelor of Arts 2006-2010)

Recipient of a Fulbright – British Friends of Harvard Business School MBA Award, Charlotte Balnave will dedicate her two years abroad studying for her Master’s degree in Business Administration at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to her specialism of healthtech innovation.

Sharing in their mission to make healthcare accessible and affordable to all, Charlotte has led Babylon Health’s International Strategy and Partnerships team. Pioneers in AI-driven healthcare, Babylon is achieving rapid international expansion. Charlotte has driven this effort, overseeing the roll-out to one billion users in China with Tencent and partnering with the Gates Foundation to put Babylon in the hands of over two million Rwandans.

Harvard Business School and the Fulbright Award will allow Charlotte to deepen her knowledge of healthcare entrepreneurship, learning at the very centre of global healthtech innovation in Boston.

Joti Desour (Bachelor of Arts 2013-2017, Master of Arts 2017-2018)

Granted a Fulbright Postgraduate Award, Joti will study a Master’s Degree in Media Studies at The New School, a university in New York City. 

Her research into creative media, focusses on the experiences of ethnic minorities in the industry, representation in the media and how we may utilise media as a form of activism to build cross cultural understanding.

Joti studied History and Spanish at the University of Nottingham, where she was awarded academic honours as an undergraduate student. She specialised in cultural history in the Americas and, in particular, examined the relationship between sound and our modern conceptions and understanding of race.

At The New School, Joti intends to integrate her practical experience in the media with her theoretical study of race and her passion for activism into one multimedia project.

Isabel Straw (Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery 2011-2016)

Isabel, who is a London doctor who has dedicated her junior years to studying the effects of social circumstance on health, has been awarded a Fulbright All Disciplines Postgraduate Award. She will study for her Master’s degree in Global Health at the University of Pennsylvania based in Philadelphia.

Her work at Great Ormond Street Hospital focussed on the impact socio-economic deprivation has on childhood mental health, while her policy work at the Westminster ‘Centre for Social Justice’ addressed the growing needs of our ageing population. Isabel plans to use a Master’s degree in Public Health Education to better equip herself to tackle the effects of social empowerment on health.

Studying in the US and concentrating on global health will enable Isabel to deepen her understanding of global health inequalities and develop relationships within the international community.

Emma Vickers (Bachelor of Arts 2005-2008)

Emma Vickers, an investigative researcher, writer and analyst on conflict and corruption in Sub-Saharan Africa, has also been awarded a Fulbright All Disciplines Postgraduate Award.

Emma holds an MSc in Political Economy of Violence and Conflict from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, and a BA in History from the University of Nottingham. She will be heading to Columbia University in the City of New York, to study a Master’s degree in Journalism.

Most recently, she worked for the United Nations in South Sudan, where she conducted field research in to the civil war, assisting one of the largest UN peacekeeping missions to better protect civilians from conflict.

As a Fulbright scholar, Emma will focus on honing her skills in investigative journalism, and learning new ones in radio and conflict reporting. After graduating she plans to report from Sub-Saharan Africa, which she considers one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic regions.

Notable alumni

There have been over 27,000 Fulbright exchanges between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland so far, and Fulbright has several notable British and American alumni including the Liberal Democrat politician Baroness Shirley Williams, crime writer Ian Rankin, American composer Aaron Copland, the actor John Lithgow, and 20th century poet Sylvia Plath.

Thousands of American and British ‘Fulbrighters’ have benefitted from the opportunity to study in each other’s countries, and the experience has impacted their work and careers long after returning home.

Founded by diplomatic treaty in 1948 to foster intercultural understanding between the two countries through cultural exchange, the US-UK Fulbright programme is the only scholarship programme offering scholarships for students and scholars both ways across the Atlantic, in any field and at any university.

The 39 scholars recently celebrated their success at a reception at the new US Embassy in London and were able to meet programme alumni, Commissioners and the US Ambassador to the UK. The event also formed part of the US-UK Fulbright Commission’s 70th anniversary celebrations.

Penny Egan CBE, Executive Director, US-UK Fulbright Commission, said:

“This year, the US-UK Fulbright Commission celebrates 70 years of educational and cultural exchange and the valuable research partnerships that have developed as a result.

“This cohort of 39 British Fulbright scholars will continue this tradition, by studying and conducting research at a diverse range of institutions across the United States, immersing themselves in another culture and developing closer bonds between our two countries.”

Although the Fulbright programme has changed and evolved over the years, at its heart, still lies the enduring belief that those who spend time immersed in another culture will have a profoundly different and deeper understanding of the world, make lasting friends and return home a more rounded and empathetic global citizen.

Today, ‘Fulbrighters’ are tackling some of the most urgent problems and issues facing the global community in collaborative ways. They recognise that the challenges we face require mutual understanding and collective action.

— Ends —

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

Liz Goodwin - Media Officer

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 95 15798 Location: University Park

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