Bouma-Johnston awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2011-07-12 07:53:02 - General

Recent Coe College graduate Holly Bouma-Johnston has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Program grant. The Fulbright will allow Bouma-Johnston to study abroad in Mongolia during the 2011-2012 academic year. The grant funds will pay for travel, living and research expenses.

Bouma-Johnston graduated with cum laude honors on May 8 with majors in psychology and music, and a minor in Spanish.  While at Coe, she served as a Writing Center consultant and was actively involved in orchestra, CESAW and the Vagina Monologues.

During her time at Coe, Bouma-Johnston took advantage of multiple opportunities to study abroad, which spurred her interest in applying for the Fulbright.   She spent a semester in Asia, a semester in Spain, a May Term in Ireland, and toured Austria and the Czech Republic with the Coe orchestra.

“While studying abroad, I discovered that I really loved traveling and learning about new places, new people, and new ways of doing things.  The Fulbright Program seemed like a good way to continue doing that, so I applied,” said Bouma-Johnston.

The Coe alumna believes the travel abroad and her on-campus experiences, coupled with supportive faculty, have helped prepare her for the program.

“Coe was really great about offering a lot of opportunities to study abroad, making it affordable and accessible to pursue the things that I wanted to pursue,” said Bouma-Johnston.  “If I hadn’t taken advantage of those opportunities, I think my outlook on life would be much different right now.”

While completing the Fulbright application, Bouma-Johnston thought Mongolia sounded like an interesting place to study.  She received encouragement from 2004 Coe graduate Alice Obrecht, a previous Fulbright scholar to Mongolia.

“The more I researched Mongolia, the more fascinating it seemed.  The country was so isolated for so long, and now they are trying to maintain their culture while modernizing at the same time,” said Bouma-Johnston.

In Mongolia, Bouma-Johnston will teach English for 20 hours a week at the Music and Dance College of Mongolia.   The program will also allow her to work on a research project.  While in Mongolia, she hopes to research the traditional music of the country or work with some of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the capital city of Ulan Bator.  Bouma-Johnston is one of five Fulbright recipients who will be studying in the Asian nation for the upcoming school year.

Following her year abroad, Bouma-Johnston plans to continue to pursue her interest in international relations and attend graduate school in the future. She is the daughter of 1974 Coe alumni Stan Bouma and Kathy Johnston of Grayslake, Ill.

During the application process, Bouma-Johnston received guidance from English Professor Ann Struthers, who serves as the Fulbright adviser for the college.  Other Coe faculty members providing support for her application were Music Professor and Orchestra Director Joseph Dangerfield, Psychology Professor Sara Farrell, English Professor Robert Drexler and Rhetoric Professor Robert Marrs.

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.