By: Diane Stirling
The School of Information Studies (iSchool), long a welcoming place for students from around the world, is currently hosting 10 students who have arrived at Syracuse University as Fulbright scholars.
Organized by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright program, named for founder the late Senator J. William Fulbright, uses binational partnerships with foreign governments to create exchanges in the sciences, business, academia, public service, government, and the arts to increase understanding between peoples. It was designed to develop post-WW II leadership and to engage with other nations, beginning in 1948. There have been more than 250,000 Fulbright students, scholars and teachers ever since.
The current group of iSchool “Fulbrighters” found homes here via University and iSchool international outreach efforts and were attracted by the specialized information technology and library studies programs. International students are drawn here by the scholarship support SU offers, the high quality Information programs they find at the iSchool, excellent professors, and the opportunity for personal challenge and growth that a Fulbright stay offers, they say. The excellent services of the Slutzker Center for International Students and other internationalized focused aspects of the university add to the value of a Syracuse education.
“Having 10 Fulbright scholars studying at the iSchool concurrently is a tremendous opportunity not only for these intelligent and fortunate individuals, but also for the iSchool as a whole,” noted Susan Corieri, assistant dean for enrollment management and special academic program initiatives at the iSchool.
She said the Fulbright program enables the iSchool “to attract students from countries who do not send many students to Syracuse University, and our students, faculty and staff all benefit from the exposure to more cultures. Today’s information professional knows no geographic boundaries. The connectivity of the world makes virtual collaboration essential and enhanced awareness and sensitivity to varied global citizens and cultures make us better able to prepare our students to be high-quality information professionals.”
Jordanna Enrich, assistant director of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, Council for International Exchange of Scholars, concurred about the opportunities the iSchool presents for international study. “The iSchool provides a wonderful academic environment for Fulbright students and it is wonderful to see so many thriving in the variety of programs that they offer,” she added.
3 Ph.D., 7 Master’s Students
Current doctoral degree candidates are:
Renata Curty,who just returned to Brazil, and who is completing her survey research via distance education after almost four years of study at SU;
Andreas Kuehn, of Switzerland, who is researching internet governance and cybersecurity, with special interest in the controversies around the production, sale and regulation of software vulnerabilities in the context of current cybersecurity policy;
Claudia Louis, of Saint Lucia, here on a Fulbright International Science and Technology Award grant, is researching innovation in government, information policy, and ICTs in education. Her dissertation is “Organizational Perspectives on the Implementation of Challenges and Prizes in the US Federal Government.”
Also enrolled are seven master’s students:
- Jose Gonzalo Bejar, from Ecuador, a telecommunications and network management (TNM) second-year student;
- Ramear Ramadhan Faris, of Iraq, also a second-year TNM major;
- Rio Indra Maulana, from Indonesia, a dual information management(IM)/TNM student;
- Faten Matmati, of Tunisia; a first-year IM major;
- Cesar Ivan Miranda, a second-year TNM major from Quito, Ecuador;
- Kusturie Moodley, of South Africa, who will complete her library degree and a C.A.S. in data science in May;
- Seyram Saklu, from Togo, a TNM major and first-year grad student.
With her doctoral proposal concluded, Renata has just returned to southern Brazil after almost four years here, and is back as a faculty member at the Universidade Estadual De Londrina. Over the next six months, she will complete her survey research via distance, and plans to return to Syracuse in September to defend her dissertation. She is gauging factors that contribute to research data reuse, a field of increasing impact in the world as more government-funded research requires data sharing, she believes.
Renata had worked for her university since 2006, and Syracuse was among her top options, she said, because it presented a unique chance to study and work with some of the professors whose research she had been following. “When you go for your Ph.D., you choose the school for mentors. You follow the people you want to work with–so the reputation of the school is very important,” she advised.
Cesar has found at SU a culture where “students are much closer to professors…[and]…are also more open to share their ideas. It’s a nice change from the professor as authoritarian. Here, professors expect that we speak out. At the beginning, I wasn’t used to that.”
Miranda said he likes how people are “really independent, and more self-prepared to live their lives,” since in Ecuador, even young adults tend to live at home, he said. He recognizes that future opportunities may mean going abroad again because “I have this goal that I’d like to become a professor. That would mean a Ph.D., and I’m not sure if I’d be doing that here or in a different country.” Cesar sees a Fulbright path as “a life-changing opportunity… [anyone doing] it should come with an open mind because they will be out of their comfort zone, but at the same time, there is so much opportunity to grow.”
While the Fulbright committee matched his interests with a school, “I was not disappointed by their choice, Seyram said. “I was looking for a program to get technical skills and hands-on experience in telecommunications. In the iSchool, in addition to my [technical studies] expectations, I am provided also with management courses.”
Since his previous IT studies were theory-focused, Seyram enjoys the hands-on experiences of iSchool labs. “My background studies were very theoretical, but now I have the opportunity to apply what I get from class.” He also appreciates having IT guest lecturers, since “we can interact with them, asking them all kind of relevant questions.” Despite a heavy workload, Seyram is satisfied with his studies, and “I believe it is going to pay back in few years.” With humor, he said he has found SU to be “completely different from what I used to watch in American movies back home.” And the Toga, Africa native said winter in Syracuse has allowed him “to discover a new hobby–ice skating. I am still struggling to find my balance on the rink,” he laughed.
Rio has discovered that the benefits of iSchool academics outweigh his concerns over cold weather. He enjoys the breadth of laboratories offered at the iSchool and how his professors are active within their industries. “What’s cool about this program is the lab; there is a broad range, whatever your field is, I am pretty sure there will be always be a lab that can accommodate it.” He says his TNM professors are “really expert in their fields and always provide us with knowledge about current technology and issues, since most of them also work with the industry.” As a teaching assistant in Indonesia previously, Maulana wants to be a professor at a university at home, “but before that, I want to have a working experience in the U.S. because I think it will help my career to have experience with industry, like my professors at the iSchool.”
Her master’s in library science program and Fulbright experience has “been very successful” for Kusturie, providing “ample opportunity to interact with the faculty and library professionals.” She’s been able to gain “valuable experience, mature professionally, as well as develop a variety of skills through the courses offered, and attend conferences and internships.” Kusturie also took advantage of her time at the iSchool to add a certificate of advanced studies in data science, providing her with an additional specialization, she noted.
When Jose met iSchool recruiter Julie Walas at a university fair in South America, “she gave me such a good impression of the university that I started researching about my opportunities. The more I found about [Syracuse] University and the iSchool, the more I liked it.”
Jose said enjoys how the complement of technical and business classes broaden his understanding of the IT industry. Once here, he “did not find what I expected, I found something different and better. I had the idea that my program was going to be either technical or about management. It turns out to be…a mix of both.”
He would encourage others to try the Fulbright program, because it is “not only about grades or studying, [it is] about learning from other people. The Fulbright scholarship gives you the chance to meet people from all over the world, learn from so many cultures. Fulbright is a complete enriching experience. I encourage all those who think of applying to do it. It will change your lives. It is totally worth it.”