Each year, University of Houston students take their talents around the world for the educational experiences of a lifetime. Many of these journeys are supported by the U.S. Fulbright Program, and students return from their travels ready to apply what they’ve learned abroad to future endeavors.
UH’s steady stream of student Fulbrighters is a perfect complement to its status as Texas’ first Hispanic Serving Institution (HIS). Like Fulbright, UH’s role as a premier HSI supports a multicultural academic environment.
For efforts in supporting international and inclusive learning experiences, UH has again been named a Fulbright Hispanic Serving Institution Leader. The University is among only 46 institutions of higher education nationwide to earn this distinction.
This is the third consecutive year that UH has been recognized for its engagement with Fulbright recipients and its support of Fulbright opportunities.
“We are honored to yet again be acknowledged as a Fulbright HSI Leader,” said UH Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Diane Z. Chase. “This recognition speaks to the University’s commitment to supporting life changing learning experiences around the globe and on our very own campus.”
UH and other Fulbright Hispanic Serving Institutions were announced during the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities 37th Annual Conference in Chicago on Oct. 30.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Lee Satterfield saluted UH and its fellow Fulbright HSI Leaders for their ongoing support programs that enhance higher education for students.
“Representation matters and pairing the world-class educational opportunities that Hispanic-Serving Institutions provide with the power of Fulbright further enriches the experience and educational opportunities for students and scholars both at home and abroad,” Satterfield said.
This year, eight UH students embarked on international trips thanks to the U.S. Fulbright Program. These Cougars were supported during the extensive application process by UH’s Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards (OURMA).
According to Ben Rayder, executive director of OURMA, the designation of a Fulbright HSI Leader underscores the University’s role in expanding students’ worldview.
“Fulbright is committed to creating mutual understanding and representing the United States abroad through cultural diplomacy, which is of particular importance to an HSI like the University of Houston,” Rayder said. “This designation is recognition of our dedicated commitment to support students from all backgrounds and further promote global experiences for all.”
Among the students who benefitted from OURMA’s guidance was recent graduate Sanda Tzul. A first-generation student of Guatemalan descent, Tzul’s Fulbright took her to Mexico where she served as an English teaching assistant. In undertaking this journey, her goal was to gain a better understanding of Latin communities and education.
Aspiring Fulbrighter Thalia Savajanes also received support from OURMA. If selected as a student Fulbright recipient, she hopes to visit Taiwan to study bilingual education and volunteer as a geriatric care social worker. As she awaits word on whether she will be named a Fulbright recipient, she is appreciative for OURMA’S assistance.
“I felt supported throughout the whole application process,” she said. “Dr. Rayder took time each week to ensure that my essays were in top shape. The application required diligence on my part but seeing Dr. Rayder take the initiative to work with his students motivated me to be a much better student and future professional overall.”
In addition to OURMA, UH’s Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) plays an integral role in supporting international learning opportunities. The Institute hosts several programs that shape students into globally minded citizens and scholars. Its executive director Amb. Michael Pelletier (Ret.) commended the University and its community for again earning the Fulbright HSI Leader designation.
“As a Hispanic-serving institution, UH is honored to share our diverse expertise, experiences, and heritage across the globe, and to then share those global experiences back here at UH and beyond,” he said.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship international educational exchange program. Since 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 400,000 students, scholars, artists, and teachers from all types of institutions the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. Fulbrighters build connections, gain experience, exchange ideas, and address global challenges.
For colleges such as the Andy and Barbara College of Nursing and UH Law Center, the award is particularly significant as they both prepare students to address the needs of communities in Houston and beyond.
“The Andy and Barbara Gessner College at the University of Houston is honored to receive the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award this year,” said Kathryn M. Tart, the college’s founding dean. “We know that to be successful as clinical nurse experts and nurse leaders we must reflect the community in which we serve. It is about compassionate and quality health care. We are grateful to have received this prestigious national award for seven years and to be part of the University of Houston's recognition."
UH Law Center Dean Leonard Baynes shares her enthusiasm for his college’s recognition by INSIGHT Into Diversity.
“I am overwhelmed with pride as our institution earns this award for the eighth consecutive year,” he said. “It is a testament to our school's unwavering dedication to cultivating an environment where our faculty, staff, and students are not only supported but also encouraged to succeed.”
The HEED Awards and the Health Professions HEED Awards are the only national honors recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive campus environment.
HEED Award recipients will be featured in the November/December edition of INSIGHT Into Diversity. Details on the award and other recipients are available on the publication’s website.
-Story by Mike Emery (firstname.lastname@example.org