75 years of the Fulbright Program: Mentoring Programs

n 2021 the Fulbright Program celebrates its 75th anniversary (in Poland, the Program has been present for 62 years). We are joining this celebration by presenting monthly Fulbright alumni stories that showcase the positive impact of the Program on local and global communities. Each of these stories reflects the theme of the month. As part of the November theme – “Next generation impact” – we are showcasing our mentoring programs that revolve around active participation of our alumni. More information about the 75th anniversary of the Fulbright Program can be found at fulbright75.org.

Fulbright Ambassadors Program

Fulbright Ambassadors Program consists of selected alumni who are affiliated with various higher education institutions around Poland. During the 2-year term of appointment, the Ambassadors support the Commision in promoting Fulbright grants and reaching out to potential candidates. They also participate in workshops and training sessions that increase their various competences.

In their activities, Ambassadors organize information meetings during which they talk about their experiences with the Fulbright Program in the U.S., discuss the current grant offer, as well as offer tips on how to strengthen one’s application. They also liaise with other Fulbright alumni in their regions and organize joint initiatives.

We have recently inaugurated the second edition of the program. Fourteen alumni who work in seventeen higher education institutions across Poland were selected. Meetings with Fulbright Ambassadors have often become an inspiration for people interested in going to the US on a Fulbright grant. The Fulbright Program Ambassadors are creative and passionate people who work according to the idea of “giving back to the community.” Talking to Fulbright alumni, whose knowledge about the program is based on their own experiences and who are able to share some insiders’ tips, has encouraged many to apply for a Fulbright grant and helped them in the application process. 

Ambassadors’ experiences from the first edition (2019-21):

The exchange of experiences with other grantees, promotion of the program at universities in the region or advice provided to potential applicants – all this makes the Fulbright program a unique “energy bank” that allows you to boldly implement new challenges in the country.

-Rafał Szymanowski, UAM Poznań

It has been a great honor for me to be a Fulbright Ambassador. This collaboration has been a unique opportunity for me to share my own experience with potential grantees, as well as learn from them and acquire a fresh perspective on well-known discourses. As an Ambassador, I not only provided advice to potential grantees, but also cooperated with alumni, including during numerous training sessions and initiatives organized by the Fulbright Commission in Warsaw.

-Mateusz Świetlicki, UWr Wrocław

More information: https://fulbright.edu.pl/ambasadorzy/

TopMinds Mentoring Program

TopMinds is a mentoring program initiated and administered jointly by Stowarzyszenie Top 500 Innovators and the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission.

The Program is directed at young scholars and aims at opening the door to international careers for the participants. The rich program offer can be used by outstanding students and doctoral candidates who are ambitious and passionate people, interested in continuous development, not only in academia.

The program consists of a mentoring component – a several-month individual development process, based on working closely with mentors who share their knowledge and experience; and a training/expertise-building component. Depending on the program’s edition, participants engage in a series of meetings with experts, training sessions and/or discussion panels, which additionally help them gain new knowledge, strengthen key competences, boost self-confidence and believe in achieving success.

So far, we have run four editions of the program, in which almost 150 young people and their mentors have participated. Mentees describe their experience with the program in the following way:

This mentoring program allowed me to look at many things from a completely different angle, which will definitely be crucial for me while facing future challenges in my career. I learned how to ask myself questions, which had never even occurred to me before. Together with my mentor, we were looking for solutions and ideas. He shared his experiences with me and supported me during the more difficult moments. Our meetings have always made me feel better and gave me energy to move forward.

-Ola Krawiec

While participating in TopMinds, I did not only get a smart mentor, but also an ever-present friend and an affectionate parent, who both cares and understands what you are going through. I missed that.

-Nina Boichenko

More information: https://topminds.pl/

BioLAB Mentoring Program

The BioLAB mentoring program was initiated by the alumni of the BioLAB Program and the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission. Its goal is to provide the participants with direct support in regard to their professional development and furthering their international academic career. 

We believe that the help of experienced and successful colleagues who are alumni of the BioLAB program will allow junior researchers to find their own place on the job market, not only in academia, but also in other fields, such as technology and business. The majority of students who participate in the BioLAB program graduate with MAs, often facing difficulties in finding the right path for their career and future development as they search for doctoral programs or other forms of employment. This mentoring program provides support for them in the process.

Currently, the first edition of this program is underway, but we already know that it will continue to develop and grow. 

More information: https://fulbright.edu.pl/biolab/program-mentoringowy/

EducationUSA Poland Mentoring Program

EducationUSA Poland Mentoring Program is a joint initiative, created in 2015, by the EducationUSA Center at the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission and the U.S. Embassy, Warsaw.

As part of the program, Polish high school students interested in pursuing their undergraduate studies in the United States, and chosen in the selection process, receive a one-year mentorship from graduates of American universities and colleges, primarily Fulbright grantees and alumni, and certified EducationUSA advisors. For mentors, participation in this program is a great opportunity to actively inspire the youth and participate in their educational development and advancement. 

In the words of Paweł Urzenitzok, one of the alumni of the program’s second edition:

It was the mentoring program that showed me how to turn my dreams into goals and my goals into reality. With the support of my mentor from Harvard, I wrote the essay component, passed the required exams and chose the right institution.

So far, 120 people in total: 60 mentees and 60 mentors have participated in this program.

More information: educationusa.pl/mentoring-program

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