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Eyes on the Prize

Guiding students through the fellowship process

When Peter C. Hughes Jr. '06 takes up his studies at the University of Bonn next semester, he will be well prepared. Besides a fresh Fulbright Scholarship, the history and German studies major brings along work experience inside two federal legislatures: the U.S. Senate and the German Bundestag. Impressive as his personal accomplishments are, though, he follows an established Dartmouth tradition.

Peter C. Hughes Jr. '06
Peter C. Hughes Jr. '06

"Peter is indeed remarkable," comments his advisor, Professor of German Studies and Department Chair Bruce Duncan. "He is a good example of how students can take advantage of Dartmouth's opportunities in German. Since 1970, we have sent at least 62 graduates with a Fulbright or DAAD [Germany's equivalent of a Fulbright] to Germany, five others on Rotary Fellowships, and five more on Reynolds—an average of two a year. We offer two Bundestag opportunities each year and we have biology and chemistry internships at a couple of Max Planck Institutes as year-long exchanges for juniors."

None of this happens by chance. "The Dartmouth German studies department has really a great reputation inside Germany," Hughes says. "This means they are guaranteed to be able to send Dartmouth students to work in the German Parliament."

Hughes followed up his German experience with an internship in Senator Richard G. Lugar's (R-IN) Washington, D.C., office. It brought him into direct contact with the work of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Lugar chairs. "I've seen both the U.S. and European approaches to dealing with the same issues—how we deal with Iran, with terrorism, with other continuing international problems," says Hughes.

When it came to planning for graduate studies, Hughes found even more help on campus. "Bruce Duncan and [Professor and Chair of History] Michael Ermarth were really influential," he says. "Also this year we had Kristin O'Rourke as a new scholarship advisor, responsible for organizing Dartmouth scholarship applications. She was excellent at guiding us through the process."

"It begins with trying to educate students on their options," explains O'Rourke, who works in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Advising. "It involves talking with individual students about their plans, helping them narrow their choices, and encouraging them to apply for as many grants as they want that fit their profile.

"If a student is chosen for a finalist interview (for example with Rhodes and others), then usually we do mock interviews to prepare them. We give them as much information as possible about the interview process. Then we all cross our fingers and wait."

For Hughes, the year's work on his future was well worth the effort. With the help of his advisors, he narrowed his focus for graduate work to a master's degree on European integration in Germany. "The Fulbright is a really nice way to be at the center of European politics," he says.

By PETER WALSH

See the list of National undergraduate scholarship award winners (2005-2006)

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Last Updated: 5/30/08