Meghan McGuirk, a sophomore from Glasgow, will spend five weeks at the universities of Dundee and Strathclyde in Scotland studying the cultural and political forces that have shaped modern Scotland. The US-UK Fulbright Commission fosters mutual understanding through educational exchange between the United States and United Kingdom.
The Commission aims to reach out to American and British students who are curious about the world around them and in whom the Commission sees great potential. The Summer Institutes are intended to be a “life changing experience” for the participants. The Commission selects students who would not have otherwise have had the opportunity to study and travel in the U.S. or the UK. Institutes are open to undergraduates with at least two years of undergraduate study left to complete.
McGuirk, pursuing a degree in political science, first learned about this opportunity during her freshman year.
“I learned about the Fulbright Summer Institutes through the Office of Scholar Development. I knew right away that I wanted to work toward this goal. I decided to wait until my sophomore year to apply so I was better qualified,” she said. “Once I heard about the added Scotland Institute, I knew it was the perfect program for me. I have always had an interest in Scottish history and culture.”
After completing her degree at WKU, McGuirk plans to pursue a career in the public sector, working in some capacity for either a government or legal organization.
“By studying Scotland’s current events and their recent history, I will have a frame of reference when I return to the United States and work in policy,” she said.
Dr. Melinda Grimsley-Smith, coordinator of international scholarships for the Office of Scholar Development (OSD), works with students who are applying for the Fulbright Summer Institute and a variety of other overseas fellowships.
“We had an extraordinary group of applicants for the Fulbright Summer Institutes this spring, all of whom would have been stellar additions to each institute cohort,” she said. “Meghan’s interest in the relationship between federal and state governments in the U.S. will give her a useful framework to think about the changing relationship between Scotland and the United Kingdom, and vice versa.”
“I firmly believe that this would not have been possible without the OSD,” McGuirk said. “Dr. Grimsley-Smith literally went over every word on the written application and their staff helped me to prepare for the phone interview.”
McGuirk looks forward to spending her summer in Scotland and bringing a bit of Scottish life back to the Hill at WKU.
“I am most excited about the cultural immersion aspect of my program,” she said. “This is my first time studying abroad and I want to see how Scottish culture compares to ours.”
In addition to the Scotland Summer Institute, the Commission offers three- to six-week programs at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London, Durham University, King’s College London, Nottingham Trent University, Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Bristol, the University of Exeter, and a Wales Summer Institute.
About the Office of Scholar Development: The OSD works with students and their mentors to build research and creative agendas, helps students identify appropriate national and international scholarship opportunities, and provides intensive writing support throughout the application process. OSD staff welcome the opportunity to speak with students about the Fulbright UK Summer Institutes and other similar programs.
Contact: Dr. Melinda Grimsley-Smith, (270) 745-5043.