Recent Baylor Graduate Selected for Fulbright to Finland

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Amanda Randolph, a May 2011 Baylor University graduate from La Vernia, Texas, has been selected for a Fulbright grant to study in Finland.
May 19, 2011

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Amanda Randolph, a May 2011 Baylor University graduate from La Vernia, Texas, has been selected for a Fulbright grant, becoming Baylor's 25th Fulbright recipient since 2001. Randolph will study in Finland as part of the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Randolph is a graduate of La Vernia High School, where she was a National Merit Scholar. On May 13, she earned her BA from Baylor magna cum laude with a double major in biology and history and a minor in chemistry.

As part of the Fulbright program, Randolph plans to research in the area of gerontology at the University of Jyväskylä, which houses the Finnish Centre for Interdisciplinary Gerontology. She said she chose Finland because of its international standing as one of the top countries for quality of life, while simultaneously working through the various scientific and public policy issues related to an aging population.

"[As opposed to the United States], Finland's baby boom was very short and pronounced, so they're hitting their bubble right now. The United States had a much longer and bigger baby boom. We're not even at the peak of what our problems will be with health care, so I thought it would be a good idea go to Finland and learn from people who are dealing with what we will be experiencing in the future."

Randolph applied for the Fulbright through Baylor's Office of National and International Scholarships, led by Elizabeth Vardaman, associate dean for special academic projects in the College of Arts and Sciences. Vardaman praised Randolph as a "remarkable pre-medical student at Baylor."

"She researched many gerontology programs in various Scandinavian countries before she found the multidisciplinary one at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland that best suited her purposes," Vardaman said. "Amanda will not only be a vibrant and engaged Fulbrighter there next year, but she will bring that unique training and perspective back to the States to enrich her medical school experience and ultimately her medical practice among senior citizens."

Involvement in BIC

At Baylor, Randolph was involved in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC), a program within the Honors College that provides an alternative way for students to explore Baylor's core curriculum. Through challenging integrated coursework and active learning components, BIC students study how the subjects of English, history, religion, philosophy and political science intersect and influence the development of the world's cultures.

"The BIC has a real focus on international and intercultural understanding," Randolph said. "I wanted to get some international experience while I could, and I figured that right after graduation would be the best time. And that's when I received an email from Dean Vardaman about applying for the Fulbright."

Randolph credited several BIC professors for her academic success, including Dr. Melanie Nogalski, coordinator of the BIC program; Dr. Mark Long, associate professor in the Honors College and director of Baylor's Middle East studies program; and Dr. Michael Foley, associate professor in the Great Texts program.

"Dr. Nogalski has been my adviser for BIC since my freshman year. She was really a great teacher and really helped me in my personal development," Randolph said. "BIC exposed me to some excellent faculty members at Baylor, such as Dr. Mark Long and Dr. Michael Foley. I had two of Dr. Foley's classes, and those classes did more for me as far as expanding my world of thought than any other classes I've ever taken."

Student of "exceptional merit"

Long describes students, such as Randolph, who participate in the BIC as intellectually gifted, exceptionally curious about other cultures and committed to generous service.

"They are a splendid group to teach. But among them, one occasionally finds students of exceptional merit, and that is clearly the case with Amanda," Long said. "She is, in a word, brilliant, but it is not sheer intelligence that impresses me. Amanda has an intellectual élan and a sophistication in writing and speaking which are quite remarkable. She brought a maturity to class and an eagerness to learn that consistently pushed me to be the best teacher I possibly could. Consistently, she helped bring discussions to a much higher level of analysis, and I could count on her to analyze texts and arguments much beyond the superficial."

As she moves on from Baylor, Randolph will begin her studies in Finland in the fall.

"I really do love Baylor. I'm going to be sad to move on, but I hope I can represent it well," she said.

About the Fulbright

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program enables qualified undergraduates, graduate students and recent alumni to design their own study or research plans or to teach English in more than 140 countries. It provides unique opportunities for international experience, personal enrichment and an open exchange of ideas with citizens of other nations. The Fulbright program is the nation's largest international exchange fellowship program, providing approximately 1,500 study grants and English teaching assistantships each year. More than 8,000 applicants competed for these awards in 2010.

Selection for the Fulbright Student Program emphasizes leadership potential, academic and professional excellence and commitment to mutual understanding. The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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