For the fourth consecutive year, Lebanon Valley College is on the list of the U.S. colleges and universities that created the most Fulbright U.S. Students.

Last year, LVC had a record of four Fulbright finalists and 11 applicants. LVC has had 10 Fulbright student scholars and two Fulbright faculty finalists in the past four years.

Over the forty year period 1975-2015, LVC received 10 Fulbright grants. Then, from 2016-2019 there were another 10 Fulbright grants in just four years.

What is the Fulbright Program? The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs states…

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has given over 390,000 passionate and accomplished students, scholars, teachers, artists, and professionals of all backgrounds and fields the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas, and contribute to finding solutions to important international problems. Faculty and administrators advance professionally as a result of their participation in the U.S. Scholar Program; and U.S. higher education institutions also benefit from new viewpoints from abroad and from new international collaborations, which often lead to discoveries and breakthroughs that have a global impact.

The global network of Fulbrighters fosters mutual understanding between the United States and partner nations, advances knowledge across communities, and improves lives around the globe. Over 8,000 U.S. Students, U.S. college and university faculty and administrators, and Foreign Students and Scholars are awarded grants each year to study, lecture, conduct research, or teach their native language on the program (

The four 2019-2020 finalists included Alexa Kanakry ’19, a music and music education double major and Spanish minor, for Spain; Calyn Lutz ’19, a Spanish and secondary education major, for Mexico; Rachel Duong ’19, a English and Spanish major, for Brazil; and Matthew Torrence ’19, an early childhood and special education major, for Malaysia. 

The Chronicle of Higher Education posted the full lists of the 2019-2020 top-producing institutions for the Fulbright Program earlier this month. To view the full lists, visit

“This Fulbright international recognition is a tribute to the excellent work of our students, who go further, and achieve more through the support and guidance of their dedicated faculty,” said Dr. Monica Cowart, LVC provost and vice president of academic affairs, in a news release.

Dr. Philip Benesch is an associate professor of political science, director of the pre-law program and the faculty director of external scholarships fellowships and scholarships at LVC. Benesch guides students in the right direction for the Fulbright application process and encourages them to step out of their comfort zone. 

“I meet and work with students, as well as encouraging them to apply,” Benesch said. “Students don’t always see themselves as likely to succeed and therefore they don’t apply. I tell them to at least ‘throw their hat in the ring’.” 

When meeting with applicants, Benesch tries to identify their interests in order to find the path that would be best for each person. Then he will help shape their personal statements and essays, as well as go over and assist in revising their multiple written drafts. 

“These are highly prestigious and highly competitive. Only a very tiny number will ever be selected. It is an honor to go into the process and an honor to be selected as a semi-finalist in this process. There can be 100 applicants for one grant.”

“They have amazing opportunities to teach in another country and to learn in another culture and language. These are precious opportunities and we should pursue them whenever we can.”

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