Despite Tough Competition, Two Duquesne Students Named Fulbright Scholars

Two Duquesne University students have received prestigious U.S. Fulbright Awards in the program's most competitive year ever.

Alex Wolfe, who recently graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics, and Michael Kramer, a doctoral candidate in philosophy, were named U.S. Fulbright Scholars and will be teaching and studying at international locations later this year.

Wolfe will be teaching English in Taiwan while Kramer will work on completing his philosophy dissertation at Heidelberg University in Germany. They received the awards during the Fulbright U.S. Student Program's most competitive year - more than 11,700 students applied for the award, a record high for the program and an 11.9 percent increase from the previous year.

"It's a great reflection on our faculty and students to earn these incredible honors," said Christine Pollock, senior director of sponsored programs at Duquesne. "We work to prepare our students for any opportunity and are thrilled to have two students recognized as Fulbright Scholars this year."

While studying economics, Wolfe worked as a tutor for Duquesne's Spiritan Division where he helped students on the verge of their college careers improve their English. Interested in China's economy, he then initiated an opportunity where he could study and teach English in Shanghai as part of his 2019 internship.

"Duquesne gave me the confidence and knowledge to take the initiative and chart my own course," Wolfe said. "It took me beyond the classroom to find experiences that met my interests and furthered my career goals."

For Kramer, who earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy from UCLA, the Fulbright will provide him the opportunity to research, write and complete his doctoral dissertation at Heidelberg University, which ranks among the best philosophy institutes in the world.

"Duquesne's faculty is renowned for its phenomenology expertise and has provided me with a different specialization from my experience at UCLA," Kramer said. "Duquesne and Heidelberg have programs that complement each other, so the Fulbright honor comes at a perfect time."

The university's Office of Research and Innovation encourages students to expand their horizons by beginning their research efforts early in their college careers. The office provides a review committee of faculty, some who are Fulbright recipients themselves, to provide insight and edits to application drafts.

"Duquesne has offered me wonderful opportunities to learn from its highly respected faculty and also to teach," said Kramer, who will begin his 10-month Fulbright term in September 2021. "Working with undergraduate students early in my time here has been a remarkable experience."

Wolfe will begin his Fulbright experience in late July and teach in Taiwan until the end of June 2022. From there, he will go on to study at the Fletcher School at Tufts University with plans to work in a government or international trade field. Father John Sawicki, an assistant political science professor at Duquesne and one of Wolfe's professors, also graduated from Fletcher.

"I'm fortunate to be where I am," Wolfe said. "Fulbright is an awesome program as both a tool of diplomacy and a learning experience. It's an opportunity to do something special by contributing to the world."

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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