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July 7, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Vic students awarded Fulbright

Four former Victoria University Honours students were among 27 graduate students from around the country who received awards to pursue postgraduate study and research in the United States at Fulbright New Zealand’s recent 60th anniversary celebrations.

Shaun McGirr and Dmitri Schebarchov were grantees of the Fulbright Ministry of Research, Science and Technology Graduate Awards, while Luke Di Somma and Jessica Kerr received the Fulbright New Zealand General Graduate Awards.

Jointly funded by the American and New Zealand governments, Fulbright graduate awards provide up to US$25,000 towards one year of attendance at an American university of the grantee’s choosing.

Since New Zealand’s induction into the programme in 1948, the programme has funded over 1,400 students, academics and professionals to study, teach and research in the United States.

Past alumni of the programme include historian Michael King, author Witi Ihimaera and current Minister of Health David Cunliffe.

“[I feel] obviously very proud and honoured to be a ‘Fulbrighter,’” Di Somma, who intends to study musical theatre composition at New York University, said. “It’s a prestigious award, and I am very grateful to have received it.”

Schebarchov plans to use his award to visit the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the University of California, Berkeley. “Since my ambition is to become a scientific researcher, I think getting to know lots of world-class physicists in a completely different academic environment would be of great benefit to me,” he said.

McGirr added that the value of the award was more than financial. “The Fulbright name is a stamp of approval that will help me apply for other funding and research opportunities,”

“I’m still largely in wonder at the whole thing, and the opportunities it has opened for me.”

McGirr was also the recipient of the Sir Wallace Rowling Memorial Award, which allows a current Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Student in the field of political science, international relations, journalism or international law to undertake an internship in Washington, D.C.

McGirr encouraged other students to apply for the Fulbright Awards as well as other scholarships. “If you think you have a half a chance at a scholarship, apply. Applying doesn’t cost anything except time,”

“Nobody will chase you waving cheques. Funding opportunities are self-discovered and self-created.”

Applications for the 2009 Fulbright New Zealand Graduate Awards close 1 August.

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