The newest chapter of the Fulbright Association is a little unusual: instead of encompassing a specific geographic region of the United States, it is completely online. Hosted by Walden University, the “Virtual Walden Chapter” will welcome Fulbrighters and friends from around the globe to get involved with the Fulbright alumni community in cyberspace.
Faculty and staff at Walden University were inspired to establish a virtual chapter to better engage their global academic community (and beyond!) with networking opportunities and informative webinars, as well as recognize the many Fulbright grantees in their institution’s student, staff, and faculty network. As active members themselves, they were interested in doing their part to promote the mission of the Association among Fulbright alumni and friends across the world in an untapped virtual environment, and utilize their institution’s resources to provide unique activities and opportunities to network.
Dr. Crystal Francis will serve as the President of the Virtual Walden Chapter. She is planning to conduct public policy research in London next year through Fulbright, and as she developed her application, she learned more about the Association and its network. As a recent graduate of Walden, she was eager to get involved as soon as she heard that there was discussion about starting an online chapter through the support of Walden University. She hopes to engage the online network through kick-off webinars, membership drives, information fairs, and both in-person and virtual networking events.
“Fulbright is one of the most prestigious and competitive research exchange programs in America,” says Crystal. “To me, Fulbright means ‘global impact.'”
Dr. Walter McCollum, the Dean of Student Affairs at Walden, will volunteer as a Chapter Advisor. He conducted his Fulbright to Amman, Jordan to provide consulting and higher education administration expertise to the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and worked on a project focused on evaluating the selection and evaluation processes for hiring university presidents. Upon his return, he joined as a member of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Association. Combining this experience with his professional role in looking for opportunities to engage the student body, he helped develop the idea of starting an online chapter that could reach current and potential Fulbrighters all around the globe.
“Fulbright is near and dear to my heart,” says Walter, who is planning to organize panel discussions, workshops, and research symposiums to engage the Virtual Walden Chapter network, as well as partner with other Fulbright Chapters on professional development and networking opportunities. “Fulbright means, in three words – education, cultural exchange and mutual understanding. It means being affiliated with a prestigious organization to embody Fulbright ideals of increasing mutual understanding and cultural exchange between the U.S. and countries abroad.”
Julie Ogren is the Director of Student Organizations & Planning at Walden, and will serve as the Chapter Advisor for the Virtual Walden Chapter. “When I think of Fulbright, I think of the incredible opportunity to make a positive impact in a community and culture internationally,” she says. “There is a sense of self-discovery and incredible challenge and it will be so fun to hear the stories Walden students or anyone associated with the Walden Virtual Chapter come back to the US with.”
Those interested in joining the Virtual Walden Chapter can learn more by visiting its chapter website here, and officially enroll by logging in to their accounts. To view our full chapter network, please click here.