Fulbright Scholar Presents Work, Inspires Others

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Micaela Rubalcava Image

Professor Micaela Rubalcava stands with her Annual Faculty Exhibition artwork, inspired by Fulbright study abroad.

It was an exciting and life-changing experience for Truckee Meadows Community College Professor Micaela Rubalcava to have the chance for travel and cultural learning in Santiago, Chile this summer as a Fulbright Scholar.

She was one of 16 U.S. Fulbright Scholars studying the South American country’s education and history for the 2017 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program. They were based in Santiago during the five-week seminar.

Each Scholar created a curriculum based on their study experience to share with fellow educators. Rubalcava will soon present her work examining social justice through the eyes of five female Chilean leaders, artists, and folk musicians in an interactive slide show professional development event at TMCC.

  • What: Fulbright Outreach Presentation “Inspiration-to-Action: Chilean Women in Social Justice”
  • When: Nov. 28 at 2 p.m.
  • Where: Red Mountain Building, room 114, Dandini Campus

“In the slide show presentation, I profile Isabel Allende, Gabriela Mistral, Violeta Parra, Camila Vallejo, and Cecilia Vicuna,” Rubalcava said. “Each of these women have led social justice efforts from different vantage points: literature, poetry, song, politics, and visual arts.”

She will also share tools and tips for others who are interested in applying for Fulbright scholar programs.

The Summer Program in South America

The title of this year’s Seminars Abroad Program was “The Construction of Chilean Identity: Socio-economic, Political, and Educational.” Each of the 16 scholars worked on projects related to the main theme.

“We studied Chile’s exceptionalism in the context of globalization,” Rubalcava said. “While in Santiago, I was able to participate in an art show performance with Cecilia Vicuna, and her work inspired the current work I have displayed at TMCC in the faculty art show.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education office, Office of Postsecondary Education, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of State, administer the Program.

Rubalcava’s Fulbright scholarship paid the full tuition and travel for this summer’s seminar, and a one-week pre-orientation in Austin, Texas.

Helping Other Fulbright Applicants

Professor Rubalcava found the Fulbright application process competitive.

In December, she submitted three multiple-page research essays with bibliographies, letters of support from her Department Chair and a colleague, and a resume. One of her essays examined a project plan and implementation that each candidate submitted. She received extra points for being a first-time applicant.

Through the application process, she found that the U.S. State Department is supportive of applicants from community colleges. Some individuals can choose application categories where extra points are granted for representing one’s community college in a Fulbright program.

In addition, points are given for how well a candidate presents and sells him or herself, and specific and tangible ways they will use the knowledge gained during the experience to further their work in the field of education.

Applicants with the highest scoring point total for their package were selected for the Seminars Abroad Program.

Rubalcava would like to help others learn about the opportunities in Fulbright programs, and TMCC Professional Development Manager Cathy Brewster encourages other faculty to apply for the programs, because they foster both professional knowledge and face-to-face diplomacy.

“The Fulbright philosophy is that the focus is not on the individual applying, the ‘I want to do’ aspect,” Brewster said. “It’s about being ambassadors carrying out people-to-people contact, making an impact and building a better world together.”

There are Fulbright Programs for faculty, administrators and students—programs take place in many countries including India, Germany, Korea, Japan and France. There are about 20 different Fulbright options to choose from in the U.S. and internationally, including but not limited to the following:

  • Alumni Ambassador Program
  • Arctic Initiative
  • Core Fulbright Scholar Program
  • Faculty Development Programs
  • International Education Administrators Program
  • NEXUS Regional Scholar Program
  • Outreach Lecturing Fund
  • Scholar-in-Residence Program
  • Specialist Program, 24 disciplines
  • Visiting Scholar Program

Fulbright Programs for Students

In Spring Semester, TMCC student Jason Maldonado worked in Access, Outreach and Recruitment, and learned from his advisors about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. Maldonado applied and won the scholarship. During the summer, he studied in Torino, Italy through the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC).

“Jason is the first student from TMCC to be accepted for the Gilman Scholarship,” said Cheryl Woehr, TMCC Counseling faculty member and Gilman Scholarship Advisor.

He has now graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree, Business Emphasis.

A list of Fulbright programs and awards offered is posted on the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES) website. There is also a series of “how to” webinars illustrating the application process at the CIES site.

For more information about Fulbright Programs, please contact Cathy Brewster in Professional Development at 775-674-7965.