Senior Colleen Prince received the Ful­bright schol­arship, and she will be training at a Ukranian dance school and working on dance therapy for PTSD. Colleen Prince | Courtesy

When senior Colleen Prince first received the email telling her that she had won a Ful­bright Schol­arship, she didn’t think it was real.

“I was lit­erally dancing on stage and took a break to check my phone, which I shouldn’t do,” Prince said. “I saw the Ful­bright email with con­grat­u­la­tions, and I thought to myself, ‘This has to be an April Fool’s joke.’ I was so nervous.”

Prince may have received her email of con­grat­u­la­tions on April Fool’s Day, but there was nothing fake about it. She is a Ful­bright Schol­arship recipient through the English Teaching Assistant program and the sixth Hillsdale College student to win a Ful­bright Schol­arship in the last five years.

The Ful­bright U.S. Student Program awards grad­u­ating U.S. stu­dents, both under­graduate and graduate, with the oppor­tunity to further their edu­cation in foreign coun­tries either through indi­vid­ually designed research/study projects or through the English Teaching Assistant Program. The Ful­bright pro­vides grants in 144 dif­ferent coun­tries. Once Prince decided to apply, she had about three weeks to com­plete the extensive appli­cation that includes a grant purpose, per­sonal statement, letters of rec­om­men­dation, proof of foreign lan­guage abil­ities, and inter­views with both the campus Ful­bright board and the host country. Director of Career Ser­vices Ken Koopman spent what he esti­mated to be about 10 hours with Prince working on her appli­cation.

“Some­times when people are preparing for some­thing like this, there’s so much work and so many things going on, they want to write the essay and give it one look for grammar,” Koopman said. “Colleen spent hours and hours doing this and doing it the right way. I looked at it. She had other people look at it. For any stu­dents that are inter­ested in this kind of award in the future, that’s the ded­i­cation that it takes.”

One of the most time-con­suming aspects of the appli­cation was the grant purpose. Prince’s grant purpose is twofold. The first is to train at a Ukrainian dance school. The second is to work with a holistic health clinic that is seeking to implement a new kind of dance therapy that could be used to help sol­diers suf­fering from PTSD. Prince will pursue her grant purpose while working as a teaching assistant to a pro­fessor at a Ukrainian uni­versity. Prince chose Ukraine because of her own Ukrainian her­itage and her expe­ri­ences within the culture. She has been dancing semi-pro­fes­sionally with a Ukrainian folk dance troupe since 2008.

“It would be such an honor to be able to train at a Ukrainian dance school in Ukraine. That is just the cul­mi­nation of every­thing I’ve wanted as an artist,” she said. “Being able to, at the same time, be an ambas­sador through teaching a lan­guage that is going to be so hope­fully and nec­essary to these stu­dents there, for their success — that com­bines the skill sets and what I desire to do with my life, which is all I could really ask for.”

Hillsdale’s Ful­bright Program Adviser, Pro­fessor of German Fred Yaniga, said he is proud of Prince and the hard work she put into applying for the program.

“I’m happy that she did it,” Yaniga said. “She had a project that is near and dear to her heart, to her back­ground. She’s going to come back a changed person with huge oppor­tu­nities because, when her appli­cation for a job, internship, or post­graduate study position falls on someone’s desk, the first thing they see will be ‘Ful­bright winner.’ And her appli­cation will flow to the top.”

The program runs Sep­tember 2019 through May 2020. Prince said she looks forward to her time in the country and wants to thank all those who helped her through the process.

“It’s great to know that I now have a story that I can share with future under­grads,” Prince said. “It’s a story about how you should take every single oppor­tunity you are pre­sented with, because it could turn out really great and you have absolutely nothing to lose by trying.”