April 2, 2019
Walsh University’s Philip Kopatz, a senior in the Honors Program, has been selected as a 2019 Fulbright U.S. Student Grant recipient to Ukraine. With a rigorous application process, the Fulbright Award is one of the most competitive and prestigious honors in higher education.
“I’m so grateful for the mentorship and guidance from Director of Career and Experiential Education Abby Poeske who helped me every step of the way,” said Phil. “In addition, Dr. Ty Hawkins and Dr. Rachel Constance were also very influential and supportive. They all gave me honest feedback and helped me to grow through the application process. This experience really challenged me to reflect on my goals and think about my future in a different way.”
Kopatz, a History and Psychology Major, is a native of Canton, Ohio, and graduated from GlenOak High School. He will spend 10 months as an English Teaching Assistant to a Ukrainian university, beginning in fall 2019. With the long term goal to teach Eastern European History at the collegiate level, Phil also spent six weeks in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the summer of 2018, interning with America House Kyiv, where he was responsible for planning and implementing programs introducing Ukrainians to American history and customs. Phil immersed himself in the local culture and studied the Russian language while living in Ukraine.
“As a history scholar, the three basic skills I rely on the most will be research, writing and speaking,” said Kopatz. “Through my internship, I was able to apply those skills in a way that I had never done before. I became more confident as a speaker and facilitator.”
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study, and teaching opportunities in more than 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. During their grants, Fulbright recipients meet, work, live with, and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences. The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think.
“One of the key initiatives in the Honors Program over the past few years has been to partner with other campus stakeholders to build an infrastructure that will help Walsh University students be competitive for national and international major awards,” said Director of the Honors Program Ty Hawkins, Ph.D.
Final award selection was made by the supervising agency in the host country and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
“I’m grateful for the doors that Walsh has opened for me to fulfill my dream to someday teach on the college level,” said Kopatz. “With my prior global learning experience, I know how to be culturally sensitive. Walsh prepared me well to be a guest in another country.”
Phil is Walsh’s third U.S. Fulbright Finalist since 2013. Walsh University’s first Fulbright was Benjamin Louis ’12, who was selected as a 2012-13 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in South Korea, followed by Erin Loomis, who was awarded a 2017-2018 Fulbright U.S. Student Grant to Thailand.
Since 2016, the University has been pursuing a more collaborative effort between the Office of Experiential Learning, Honors Program and Walsh faculty members to create the Distinguished Awards Committee which supports student applications for programs such as the Fulbright. In addition to Phil Kopatz, two current Honors Program seniors were also chosen as semi-finalists this year for the U.S. Fulbright Student Grant --Treasure Byrge to Romania and Nicholas Beaver to Poland.