Fulbright scholars welcome international additions

Hannah Ray Lambert, Evergreen reporter

WSU Fulbright representatives welcomed visiting faculty and student scholars Thursday at their reception.

William Andrefsky, the dean of WSU’s graduate school, told attendees he is glad they have chosen to pursue their studies at WSU.

“Research, innovation and discovery are fueled by diverse perspectives,” Andrefsky said.

WSU benefits from added diversity, and the world benefits from advances in research and scholarship, he said. The university currently has 49 visiting Fulbright scholars dispersed over 24 degree programs.

Since 2010, WSU has had four Fulbright winners represent the university abroad, said Sarah Ann Hones, director of distinguished scholarships.

Fulbright Ambassador Mushtaq Memon said former Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright founded the program in 1946 as a way to improve communication between countries through an educational exchange.

“We want to make this world a better place and a peaceful place,” Memon said.

Andrefsky said cultural and social diversity are important additions to our university.

“If we look at problems from the same perspective all the time, we never make an advance,” he said. “But when we have one person that has a different perspective on it, all of a sudden we can figure new things out.”

Memon said that many Fulbright scholars have made great accomplishments after completing their program, including receiving Nobel Prizes or becoming heads of state.

“You have a lot of privileges and, at the same time, a lot of obligations,” he said.

Shima Bibi, a visiting scholar from Pakistan, said she hopes to use the scientific technology she learns here to help the people in her home country.

To be a Fulbright scholar, one must have leadership qualities and be accomplished in their particular area, Memon said.

“Whether you are a student or a faculty member, you have to be one of the best,” Memon said.

Javier Guerrero, who is from Columbia, is in the final year of his Fulbright Program. He is pursuing his doctorate in electrical engineering and is the president of the Fulbright Student Association. Guerrero is looking forward to helping his community with the knowledge he gains from WSU.

“I’m going to be a researcher in my country,” Guerrero said. “So I’m going to have the opportunity to share with my students – which are members of the community – the knowledge I got here.”

He said the Fulbright experience at WSU is different than at other campuses.

“I have many friends that are Fulbrighters at other campuses and… (their) campus doesn’t give them the chance to get integrated so easily to the community and to the activities of the campus,” he said.

Guerrero said he is involved in many organizations and activities because of the support he has received from the university.

“If a Fulbrighter wants to come to the U.S., WSU is the choice,” he said.