Recent Baylor Graduate Selected for Fulbright to Study in Iceland
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David Bond West, a May 2011 Baylor University graduate from San Antonio, has been selected to receive a Fulbright scholarship to study at the University of Iceland during the 2011-2012 academic year. West is Baylor's 26th Fulbright recipient since 2001 and fourth selection in 2011.
West was selected for the Fulbright - the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government - on the basis of his academic/professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in his field. He is one of more than 1,600 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad this academic year through the program which is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
A graduate of San Antonio Christian School, West was a University Scholar within the Honors College at Baylor. With an emphasis on early European civilization and culture, West earned his bachelor's degree with distinction in May. Over the summer, he received a phone call - from the Fulbright committee itself - about his scholarship.
"I hadn't really been checking my email that week," West said. "They told me that a few days before they had sent me an email that I received the Fulbright, and they were asking if I'd accepted it, and I told them, 'I accepted it.' I was really surprised."
West said he became interested in language study, particularly Old Norse, while studying abroad as a sophomore at St. Andrew's.
"Modern Icelandic is really similar to Old Norse, and I figured that might be the right place to go work on the language," West said. "The program (at the University of Iceland) is also in medieval Icelandic studies, so I'll be studying Old Norse in classes but also be speaking a very similar language. I figured that would be the right way to go about learning the language in a very short amount of time."
West spent the past summer learning Icelandic in preparation for taking proficiency exams before attending the university. He said his past Old Norse and Old English studies were helpful with vocabulary.
"But the vocabulary that I learned is not particularly useful in everyday life. It would have been a few centuries ago but not now," he said.
West commended several Baylor faculty members, such as Dr. Jeffrey Hamilton, professor and chair of history, Dr. Jeannette Denton, associate professor of English, and Dr. Lydia Grebenyova, assistant professor of English, for being "instrumental" in his academic success, as well as in their support of his pursuit of the Fulbright.
Hamilton was impressed with West's broad academic background that included studies on early European civilization and culture, elementary Greek and advanced Latin language and literature, British literature, and Old English and Anglo-Saxon genre studies. Hamilton described West as a "virtual major" in the history department, as he also added courses on Greece and Rome as well as on medieval Europe.
"Early on, Bond expressed his interest in the early medieval period and Icelandic sagas," Hamilton said. "He wrote several research papers on the historicity and historical context of saga literature and initially hoped to do his Honors thesis on the topic, but as we have no Icelandic experts on campus, this proved a daunting task."
Instead, Hamilton said, West wrote his Honors thesis on Gildas, the sixth-century British author of De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, a very challenging work of history.
"Bond's thesis allowed him to combine his expertise in Latin, Roman history and medieval history and literature and develop new insights into the author's use and understanding of his own historical sources," Hamilton said. "Bond's solid footing in classical and early medieval civilization will give him a very solid foundation to study Icelandic language, society and culture in a broader milieu."
Since its establishment in 1946 under legislation introduced by the late U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, the Fulbright Program has given approximately 300,000 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 athletics. Forty Fulbright alumni from 11 countries have been awarded the Nobel Prize, and 75 alumni have received Pulitzer Prizes.
Fulbright recipients are among more than 40,000 individuals participating in U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. For more than 60 years, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has funded and supported these programs. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is administered by the Institute of International Education.
For more information about national and international scholarships, visit http://www.baylor.edu/scholarships or contact Elizabeth Vardaman, associate dean of special academic projects in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor, at (254) 710-4176.
For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, please visit: http://fulbright.state.gov
or contact James A. Lawrence, Office of Academic Exchange Programs, at (202) 632-3241 or [email protected].
About Baylor University
Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.
Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275