The Embassy of the United States said on Tuesday that 23 South Africans had received prestigious Fulbright scholarships to pursue master’s, PhD, and non-degree research and studies in the US.
The embassy spokesperson, Liza Smith said: “Six students will be reading for their master’s degrees in fields ranging from law and engineering to education and gender studies. This year’s Fulbright cohort includes six South Africans who will be pursuing doctoral degrees at, amongst others, Duke University and the University of Rochester. In addition, one South African will be pursuing non-degree studies and eight Fulbrighters will be travelling to the United States to aid in their research work.”
The embassy said during a reception held for the scholarship recipients at the National Research Foundation (NRF) in Pretoria, Chargé d’Affaires Jessye Lapenn challenged the Fulbrighters to use their time in the United States to take their careers and research contributions to the next level. “Learn as much as you can, meet new people, and share the strength and diversity of South Africa with everyone you meet,” she said.
Smith said for the past several years, the NRF had partnered with the Embassy to increase the number of South African students studying for a PhD through the Fulbright Program.
Fulbright alumna Justice Leona Theron, 32, spoke about the impact of the programme and how her time at Georgetown University shaped her life and career.
“I was awarded the Fulbright 30 years ago. When I look back and analyze the event, I would say it was similar to the passing of the baton in a relay. Inspired by the US civil rights movement, I studied how constitutionalism could eliminate discrimination based on race, colour, religion, and sex. Upon my return to South Africa, I was empowered and committed to make a difference by putting into practice what I had gained in the US.
“Now the baton is being handed over to you. I hope that you will return and with the experience and skills gained, you will make a positive contribution to building our country in your chosen field. And that you will help build a strong growing economy in a society based on democratic values and where the basic needs and rights of every citizen are met and realised,” Judge Theron said.
Theron was the first black female judge to be appointed in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
The embassy said the Fulbright Program was the US government’s flagship international education exchange program and was designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries.
“The Fulbright Program attracts the brightest talent in the world, who share a dedication to return home and make a difference through collaboration and innovation. The Fulbright Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide and, since 1953, more than 2,100 South African students and scholars have pursued studies and research in the United States,” said Smith.
– African News Agency