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Ponce awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
(319) 399-8605 or rpritcha@coe.edu

2010-05-21 13:23:30 - General

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

Ponce graduated with cum laude honors on May 9 with majors in English and creative writing. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. Upon graduation, Ponce received departmental distinction in creative writing and received the John and Mary Skandera Prize in American Literature. During his time at Coe, Ponce was actively involved in campus organizations and activities. He has served as a telecounselor for the admissions office, managing editor for the Coe Review, editor of the Coe Cosmos and a Writing Center consultant.

Ponce will leave for Turkey at the end of the summer and serve as an English teaching assistant, while promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding.

"Turkey presents a drastic change from everything I am used to," said Ponce. "It is a nexus between the East and West, a seed of thought, a secular modern nation in the Middle East looking for its own great leaders among new generations of students."

The program will also allow Ponce to develop a research project. He plans to expand on his English and writing education at Coe and examine the local literary culture.

"I hope to spend my supplementary time examining cultural storytelling methods," said Ponce. I am particularly fond of oral histories as told through legends and superstitions of nomadic groups in mountainous and rural regions."

In order to communicate effectively with the native population, Ponce also applied for the Critical Language Enhancement Award. With this award, Ponce will receive three to six months of intensive language study in addition to his Fulbright grant. Ponce hopes to be able to engage in active dialogue with local residents and gather information about local legends and history through word-of-mouth communication.

Ponce credits his Coe experience and particularly his professors for making him aware of the myriad opportunities available in the world.

"Before Coe, I used to dream about having big adventures, being able to travel and challenge myself with new experiences, but I wouldn't have been the sort of person to go out into the world," said Ponce. "What I think Coe has done for me is to constantly present me with unique opportunities and the confidence to go out and do them."

After spending the next academic year in Turkey, Ponce plans to pursue a master's degree in writing with a concentration in fiction at Columbia University in New York. He is the son of Tomas Ponce and Julie Ponce-Doyle of Joliet, Ill.

One of Ponce's friends, Coe graduating senior Katie Blanchard of Albuquerque, N.M., was also awarded a Fulbright Program grant for the 2010-2011 academic year. Blanchard will be teaching in Serbia. During the application process, both students received extensive guidance from Professor of English Ann Struthers, who serves as the Fulbright advisor 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.