April 17, 2012
Central Michigan University senior Stephanie Jaczkowski of Clinton Township has received notification that she has been awarded a Fulbright grant and was one of 10 applicants from across the nation to be offered a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Poland.
Approximately 1,700 grants are offered annually through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, and there were nearly 10,000 applications received for the 2012-13 competition.
The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between U.S. citizens and the people of other countries. Jaczkowski is the fourth student in CMU history offered a Fulbright award.
This distinguished academic award will provide Jaczkowski the opportunity to teach English at the University of Gdańsk in northern Poland, where she studied abroad in 2010.
“I had a study trip to visit Gdańsk when I studied abroad two years ago, and the thought of applying for a Fulbright scholarship hadn’t even crossed my mind,” said Jaczkowski, a political science and integrative public relations double major. “Being offered this scholarship is a culmination of all the hard work I’ve done, and it shows what happens when you take advantage of opportunities people give to you.”
Jaczkowski said she is proud of her Polish heritage and that Polish culture has been a part of her life since her dad, Joseph, introduced her to Polish dancing when she was 4 years old. In 2008, she was the American Polish Century Club Heritage Princess, a contest based on knowledge of Polish culture.
It is because of her interest in Poland and her strong academic background that Phame Camarena, director of the CMU Honors and National Scholarship programs, strongly encouraged Jaczkowski to apply for the Fulbright.
“When I first met Stephanie she had just returned from her trip to Poland,” said Camarena. “She was so excited and committed to continue working in Poland that it was a natural fit for her to apply for this scholarship.”
Studying in Poland through the Fulbright award will help Jaczkowski develop her Polish language skills. She said she plans to attend graduate school and study public policy as well as Russian and Eastern European studies. She aspires to work in Washington, D.C., as an analyst of Eastern European politics and potentially return to Poland.
Jim Wojcik is a CMU journalism faculty member who has taught Jaczkowski in public relations courses and oversaw her program internship with the National Taxpayers Union.
“I’m so happy for her. She’s a really hard-working student who’s not afraid to take chances and is not afraid to fail,” Wojcik said. “I like seeing that excitement and passion in the students.”
Throughout her years at CMU, Jaczkowski has been active in the university’s Honors Program and College Republicans as well as attending conferences throughout the state and nation.
She also has completed internships with the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research and with the National Taxpayers Union in Washington, D.C.
“Everything I’ve done is interrelated, and it’s happened like a domino effect,” Jaczkowski said. “Each time I’d take advantage of one opportunity, it led to another and then another. Hopefully it all will continue on to something bigger.”
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 more than 155 countries worldwide.