Blanchard awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2010-05-21 13:18:17 - General

Coe College senior Katie Blanchard has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Program grant. The Fulbright will allow Blanchard to study abroad in Serbia during the 2010-2011 academic year. The grant funds will pay for travel, living and research expenses.

Blanchard graduated with cum laude honors on May 9 with majors in theatre arts and political science. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received departmental distinction in theatre arts, where she performed the lead role of Lady Cockwood in "She Would if She Could" and did a senior acting recital entitled "What It Was, Is, Will Be..." A 2009-2010 Clark Merit Scholar, Blanchard received the Jaycees Outstanding Senior Woman award for outstanding leadership to the college. She was involved in various campus organizations including Off-Stage Players, V-Day, and the College Adjustment Peer program. Blanchard also served as a Writing Center consultant and campus tour guide.

During her time at Coe, Blanchard had multiple opportunities to study abroad. In the fall of 2008, she conducted an independent study in political science in India. She also completed an internship with Culture Project, a politically provocative theatre, during the spring 2008 New York Term. It was a spring 2007 May Term in Serbia, however, that was the catalyst for Blanchard's interest in Eastern Europe.

The Fulbright program encourages graduating college seniors to apply for programs in Eastern European countries that traditionally do not attract a large number of applicants. Blanchard was eager to return to the region and felt compelled to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

"Eastern Europe is particularly fascinating to me," said Blanchard. "I find to be an area forgotten by so much of the world, but which still has a voice, a unique culture and a beautiful history. I was forever changed by the month I spent in Serbia."

Blanchard's travel abroad has only whetted her appetite to spend more time overseas. She is openly passionate about experiencing new cultures firsthand.

"I have developed a desire to let new places impact me and to experience real cultural immersion," said Blanchard. "That is why I am so eager to live abroad once again and gain a broader world perspective."

She believes her experiences at Coe, coupled with supportive faculty, led her to apply for the grant and have helped prepare her for the program.

"Through my relationship with Coe, I have been given some of the best opportunities a curious student could ever wish for," noted Blanchard. "The opportunities offered by Coe are numerous, profound and deep. It is almost expected that students will get immersed in the things the college has to offer."

Serbia is one of nine new countries added to the Fulbright Program this year. Blanchard will leave for Serbia on Sept. 15 where she will take up residency in Belgrade. She will teach 15-20 hours a week as a member of the political science faculty at the university level.

The program will also allow her to work on a research project. While in Serbia, Blanchard hopes to research and work with Theatre Dah, a non-governmental group strongly opposed to war and violence, which she also worked with during her 2007 May Term trip to the region.

"By working with Dah once more, I hope to gain new skills as a theatre artist, along with a clear understanding of how people view the Serbian culture and their particular communities within this culture," said Blanchard.

Following her academic year abroad, Blanchard plans to apply to graduate school for fall 2011. She is the daughter of Paul Blanchard of Portland, Maine and Mette Pedersen of Albuquerque, N.M.

One of Blanchard's, friends Coe College graduating senior Joe Ponce of Joliet, Ill., was also awarded a Fulbright Program grant for the 2010-2011 academic year. Ponce will be traveling to Turkey. During the application process, both students received extensive guidance from Professor of English Ann Struthers, who serves as the Fulbright adviser for the college.

Established in 1946 and sponsored by the United States Department of State, the Fulbright Program aims to increase mutual understanding between Americans and the peoples of other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills. The Fulbright Program is the largest international exchange program, providing funding for students, scholars and professionals to undertake graduate study, advanced research and teaching. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program sends approximately 1,500 students per year to more than 140 countries.