A Couple of the Brightest

Fulbright Applicants The U.S. Government’s Fulbright fellowship isn’t just famous for its prestige. The fellowship also has a notoriously rigorous application process that requires round after round of edits. Last year, Drexel had ten students go on to become Fulbright finalists and one student, Joel Oestreich, who won a fellowship.

But there isn’t much of a break between Fulbright seasons at the Fellowships Office; the next batch of applicants are already working on their personal statements and research proposals. This year’s hopefuls include couple Nicholaus Meyers and Steff Altman.

The two met during their freshman year when they lived across the hall from each other in Race Dorm. They have very different majors — Nick’s a Mechanical Engineering major and Steff’s majoring in International Area Studies with concentrations in Human Rights and Justice and Spanish, as well as minors in Gender Studies and World History and Politics — but they’ve still managed to remain connected academically.

Steff took a year off before college to travel and live abroad. “It made me realize what a small world we live in and how everywhere I went, people are just people looking to live a happy and healthy life,” says Steff. “I love the cross-cultural connections I made and wanted to continue to shrink the world while ensuring everyone had a good basic standard of living.” Hearing about Steff’s experiences abroad ultimately encouraged Nick to spend time overseas as well. He studied in England, where he learned how unique a Drexel education is. “The education in England is more theoretical, you don’t get trained until you’re at your job,” says Meyers.

And just as Steff encouraged Nick to travel, her interest in Fulbright was the catalyst for his involvement with the Fellowships Office. Nick, who worked for Synthes, a Swiss orthopedics manufacturer with a base in West Chester, is hoping to continue similar biomechanical research at the Institute of Research in Biomechanics in southern Germany if he wins a Fulbright Scholarship. Steff hasn’t yet decided if she would like to do research through Fulbright or an English Teaching Assistantship.

“I am still in the brainstorm phase, although I have narrowed down quiet a bit from my initial "I'll go anywhere and study anything" mindset,” says Altman of her application. “If I do the research Fulbright I am hoping to go to either Spain or South Africa to study LGBT rights and stabilization.”

That’s one of the best aspects of working with the Fellowships Office — regardless of whether or not students win the awards and scholarships, simply dedicating time to applications and proposals teaches students more about themselves and helps them to refine their interests.