Thomas Petrino awarded prestigious Fulbright grant

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Secretary of the College
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2017-05-09 15:36:19 - General

Thomas Petrino
 Thomas Petrino

Coe College graduating senior Thomas Petrino has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant. The Fulbright award will allow Petrino to teach in Bulgaria during the 2017-18 academic year.

In all, six graduating Coe seniors and a recent alumna received prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards this spring.  The seven recipients represent a new record number of Coe students and recent alumni who have been awarded Fulbrights in a given year. 

Petrino graduated magna cum laude on May 7 with a major in political science and a minor in creative writing. During his time at Coe, he has served on the executive board of RSVP, a student organization aimed at ending rape culture and preventing all forms of sexual violence. Petrino has also served on the editorial board of the Coe Review, a student-led literary magazine. In addition, Petrino was a consultant at the Coe College Speaking Center and worked as a Resident Assistant during his time at Coe.

For several years, Petrino had an interest in the Fulbright program, but had several possible countries in mind.  Assisted by retired Coe Professor and former National Fellowship Advisor Ann Struthers, Petrino found that serving in Bulgaria’s growing Fulbright program would be a good fit for him. He will be teaching English at a secondary school.

“I’ve always loved the English language, so helping others learn how to write, listen and communicate more effectively is something I’ve always been fascinated by,” said Petrino.

When he goes to Bulgaria for the Fulbright Teaching Assistantship, it will be the first time traveling abroad for Petrino.  He is thrilled about the opportunity to foster cultural exchange between the United States and Bulgaria, to become more culturally literate, and to develop friendships.

“I am excited to gain teaching experience because my tentative plans for after the Fulbright are to go to graduate school in hopes of becoming a professor of political science,” said Petrino.  “Developing strategies for reaching Bulgarian students will be crucial preparation for my future career.” 

Petrino credits Professor Struthers for being “a great connection who saw promise in me.” He added that Coe English Professor and National Fellowship Advisor Amber Shaw was instrumental to his success in receiving the Fulbright.

“Amber’s advice about the application essays was invaluable,” said Petrino. “I absolutely would not have had as strong of an application without Amber’s insight.” 

Further, Petrino asserts that the preparation he received at Coe was essential to him receiving the Fulbright award.

“I can confidently say that I don’t think I would even have applied for a Fulbright had I not gone to Coe. My interest in the program largely stemmed from Coe’s excellent track record with preparing students for Fulbrights,” said Petrino.  “The personal connections that Coe helps you make—and it feels like more of a tight-knit family than a sprawling college campus—made me more prepared for the Fulbright and for my future in general.”

A graduate of Onalaska High School, Thomas is the son of Frank Petrino of Tacoma, Washington and Patricia Petrino of Onalaska, Washington.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 370,000 participants—chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential—with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.  More than 1,900 U.S. students, artists and early-career professionals in over 100 fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English and conduct research annually in over 140 countries around the world.

Coe has established itself as a leading national producer of Fulbright scholars, with 20 in the past five years, and 28 awardees in the past decade.  This builds upon the tradition of Coe students, alumni and faculty who have received Fulbrights since the program was established.

Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success.  Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment.  Coe’s vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.