Of the tens of thousands of college students in the United States, only about 50 each year get selected for a place with the prestigious Fulbright Summer Institute summer scholarship program.
Adam Mills of Princeton, W.Va., is a rising junior majoring in physics in the College of Science and will spend four weeks at Queen’s University, Belfast, Ireland.
The US-UK Fulbright Commission was formed by treaty in 1948 and is the only bi-lateral, transatlantic scholarship program, offering summer programs in any field at any accredited university in the United States or the United Kingdom. The program was conceived to promote leadership, learning, and empathy between nations through educational exchange.
Fulbright Scholars are informal ambassadors for the United States, according to Gary Long, associate dean in the College of Science, a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel from 1990-91, and one of Mills’ teachers in the Integrated Science Curriculum.
“Fulbright Scholars are chosen on their academic merit and their ability to interact with other cultures,” Long said. “Adam will excellently represent the United States as well as Virginia Tech.”
The opportunity for the summer session was presented to Mills through an email on the honors list serve and after some research into the program and an application he was selected for an interview.
“The application focused on learning and the experiences that have shaped me,” Mills said. “The interview focused on what I wanted to do with my life and how I looked at myself. They were looking for strong academics but little travel experience, and I felt like I had that.”
For Mills, who has never traveled outside the United States, the news he had been accepted was a great surprise. “I spent the two weeks after the interview preparing myself for bad news,” he said. “And now I’m looking forward to meeting well-rounded, experienced, and intimidating people – and I look forward to learning from them. This program will open my eyes to other cultures. I expect Northern Ireland is a pretty intense place with passionate people.”
Mills will leave for Northern Ireland July 14 and come back around Aug. 11. While there he will learn about Northern Ireland in terms of its political and cultural relationships within the United Kingdom and the world. He will also take part in some travel and learn more about his own heritage as well.
“Some of my father’s side of the family is Irish and I want to find out what that means. I am excited to explore Northern Ireland and gain an understanding of how other people live.”