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Spanish Major Wins Fulbright Award for 2015-16

Read more about Jason Chen's thoughts on his Spanish Major, language experiences, and how it contributed to him winning the Fulbright below:

I applied for the Fulbright becauseafter returning from a year long academic exchange (facilitated by our department) in Oviedo, Spain, I realized the benefits of broadening my international and cultural experiences. Through this experience, I gained a greater perspective of Spanish language and culture in the Iberian peninsula, which made me reflect on its greater influence in the Western hemisphere.

My Spanish major was instrumental in my application for the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant position because through learning Spanish abroad, I came to realize the inseparable connection between language and culture. My classes in Spanish Sociolinguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, and History, provided a reaffirmation of my personal experiences of the influence of the Spanish language in the myriad cultures and countries that utilize Spanish as their mother tongue.

As Mexico is the world's largest Spanish speaking country, as well as the Spanish speaking country with the largest economic and cultural ties with the United States, I knew that having an immersive experience in Mexico would provide me a profound cultural insight that will help me in my future career as a physician.

The cultural experiences I had in my Spanish classes abroad, along with my volunteer position as an interpreter at the Maliheh Free Clinic in Salt Lake City reinforced my conviction that having a firsthand understanding of Mexican languages and cultures is important not only in furthering international understanding, but also in addressing domestic issues.

I could not have attained this award if it were not for my educational experiences through the Department of Languages and Literature. My academic training as a Spanish major has not only helped me gain an understanding of Hispanic languages and cultures, but also given me a greater humanistic context from which to understand the great variety of global cultures, which will be critical in my future career as a physician. Specifically, having an academic background in language has helped me appreciate my position in our diverse world. As a speaker of English, Spanish, and Mandarin, I can communicate with nearly 1.8 billion people, but I realize that these numbers pale in comparison with the 7.2 billion people speaking 6,909 languages worldwide.

Mexico ETA program has expanded to 60 positions for the 2016-2017 cycle.

Date: 05/06/15

Jason Chen Receives Fulbright Award

Jason Chen of the University of Utah has been offered a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to Mexico for an English Teaching Assistantship, the United States Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board announced recently.

Chen is one of over 1,900 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2015-2016 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 360,000 students, scholars, teachers, artists, and scientists the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Fulbright alumni have achieved distinction in government, science, the arts, business, philanthropy, education, and many other fields. Fifty-three Fulbright alumni from 12 countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize, and 82 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes. Prominent Fulbright alumni include: Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank, and 2006 Nobel Peace Prize recipient; Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia; John Hope Franklin, noted American historian and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient; Riccardo Giacconi, physicist and 2002 Nobel Laureate; Amar Gopal Bose, founder, Bose Corporation; Renée Fleming, soprano; Jonathan Franzen, writer; and Daniel Libeskind, architect.

Fulbright recipients are among over 50,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered by the Institute of International Education.

For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit our website at or contact Elaine Clayton, telephone 202-632-6452 or e-mail

Last Updated: 7/7/21