Fulbright Program award winners formally established a Fulbright student organization at Ohio State, the Buckeye Brighters, in response to an expressed need for building community among Fulbrighters at the university.
Buckeye Brighters was established in August 2020 by founding officers Shawn Conroy, Gates Failing, Gala Korniyenko, Ho-Chieh Lin and Goran Stevanovski. Korniyenko, Lin and Stevanovski are international Fulbright scholarship awardees from Ukraine, Taiwan and North Macedonia, respectively.
The Fulbright Program is the largest U.S. exchange program and offers opportunities for students and young professionals to pursue international graduate study, research and teaching.
There are presently 28 international students with a Fulbright Program award at Ohio State.
“When meeting and spending time with past and current Fulbrighters, we have discovered we had faced many similar challenges regarding integration, finding accommodation and cultural navigation,” said Stevanovski, a medical doctor from the Republic of North Macedonia, who is currently a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in educational studies for biomedical education. “For that reason, we have decided that it would be a useful and interesting feat to create a student organization that can unite past, current and future Fulbrighters at Ohio State making these previous challenges easier to navigate. Furthermore, making new friends right off the bat when moving to a new country is an additional perk our organization offers.”
More recently, due to the pandemic, the need for an organized group to be able to reach out to visiting Fulbright scholars and students that have not yet had the opportunity to come to Columbus became significantly important.
“Creating a community in this physically distanced time can prove especially challenging for students living in different time zones, said Stevanovski. “Therefore, sharing the Buckeye and the Fulbright spirit is at the forefront of our activities this fall.”
The group’s mission is to promote the goals of the Fulbright Program by increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries and to provide a peer support network for current, former and incoming Fulbright students and scholars at Ohio State.
They aim to provide assistance to new students and scholars prior to arrival and throughout their time at Ohio State and to provide a platform for them to meet, learn and share information and knowledge with their peers.
Moreover, they plan on organizing events, promoting Fulbright Program opportunities and fostering cultural exchange and service with the local community.
Although the primary goal is to create a community with current and past Fulbright award recipients, any interested Ohio State student, especially those who potentially want to apply for a grant in the future, can join the organization, attend their events and learn useful tips regarding the application process.
“If any interested students just wonder what the program entails, they can connect with any of our board members or attend our (currently online) events, and we will either provide them with the information regarding the Fulbright program or get them someone that can answer their inquiries,” said Stevanovski.