Skip to Content - Skip to Navigation

Fulbright Takes Student to Shanghai

The Fulbright tradition continues for Indiana University of Pennsylvania… partly because of a publication that was “too pretty to throw away.”

IUP Robert E. Cook Honors College student Gina Russo, of Lakewood, Colorado, has been awarded a year-long Fulbright Scholarship to spend a full year studying in the Shanghai, China. Only 1,200 university students in the nation annually are chosen for this prestigious scholarship.

The Fulbright award will allow Russo to do research on 1930s nationalism and education in Shanghai, China. She will be affiliated with East China National University and will be in China from September 2008 to May 2009.

Russo is a senior history and Asian studies major who will graduate from IUP in May.

“IUP is a long way from Colorado,” Russo said. “When I began my college search, my mother thought that the IUP Cook Honors College viewbook was just too pretty to throw away. As we did our college visits, we included IUP, and when I got here, I was so impressed with the people and the university, that I decided on IUP.”

Russo is proficient in Chinese and also speaks Spanish, Japanese, and Cantonese. She has had three years of study in Chinese, one year of it at IUP. She completed a summer at the Middlebury (Vt.) Language Institute and spent the 2006–2007 academic year in Hong Kong through the International Student Exchange program.

Last summer, she spent a month in Taiwan at a Buddhist Monastery, part of it in silence. Russo learned about Fo Guang Shan Monastery in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, from Dr. Stuart Chandler, an IUP Religious Studies professor who did his doctoral research there. The monastery is home to a hundred monks and a thousand nuns and is primarily a meditation retreat. Russo, like the other fifty student visitors, was required to do chores like dish washing and serving tea, and during the week-long visit observed a vow of silence.

For her IUP senior thesis project through the Cook Honors College, Russo completed research on how physical affection was portrayed in women’s magazines of the 1930s in China, doing research in the original Chinese in Ling Ling magazine. Russo has already been accepted into the history doctoral program at Stanford University (she turned down an acceptance at Harvard) and hopes to eventually become a professor.

So why apply for a Fulbright?

“I wanted the experience of a year of concentrated research,” Russo explained. “I’m interested in learning how government information, including nationalist government textbooks and the student essay contests organized by the Chinese government in the 1930s, shaped how nationalism was built through the educational process.”

“The Fulbright application process is intense,” she noted. “I really want to credit the faculty here at IUP, especially Dr. Janet Goebel (director of the Cook Honors College), Dr. Alan Baumler (history) and Dr. Miriam Chaiken (anthropology) for helping me be successful in competing for this scholarship.”

Stanford will be waiting for Russo when she returns to the United States; she will begin study in the history Ph.D. program in fall 2009.

Russo is the latest in a tradition of IUP Fulbright recipients. In 1996, Janet Lassen won a Fulbright to study in Germany; in 2000, Lori Felker won a Fulbright to study in Germany; in 2001, Erica Shafran won a Fulbright enabling her to study in Austria; in 2002, Betty Lanteigne went to Qatar on a Fulbright; in 2003, Abby Brewer earned a Fulbright to travel to Germany, and Stephanie West earned an award to study in Belgium. Katie Kasubick won a teaching Fulbright to South Korea in 2005. In 2006, Rebecca Galloway won a Fulbright to study in the Netherlands, and, in 2007, Matthew Fedinick won a Fulbright to study in South Korea. Fulbright scholarships are designed to foster better international communication and understanding of global issues.

Most grantees plan their own programs, many of which include university coursework, independent library or field research, classes in a music conservatory or art school or special projects in the social life or life sciences.

Along with opportunities for intellectual, professional and artistic growth, the Fulbright Programs offer opportunities for immersing one’s self into another culture, sharing daily life as well as academic experiences with residents of a foreign country.

Each finalist’s application is forwarded to the country of interest, which then decides who is awarded the scholarship.

During her tenure at IUP, Russo has been selected for Phi Kappa Phi honor society study abroad scholarship. She is a member of Phi Alpha Theta honor fraternity and has worked on the Endnote student history journal as editor-in-chief. She is a member of the IUP Ambassadors service group, is an accompanist with the Bella Vore community service choir, and has volunteered as a tutor for the local Salvation Army Ark of Learning program.

Source: Michelle Fryling mfryling@iup.edu, Media Relations Director