Fulbright Student Program Announces App State Wilson Scholar Semi-Finalist

Senior Wilson Scholar, Emma Labovitz, has been selected as a semi-finalist for the 2018-2019 Fulbright U.S. Student program along with three other Appalachian State students, Lindsey Bearss, Shaina Katz, and Johnna Reisner.

“Fulbright provides its recipients with a unique opportunity to work directly with the host community, creating a space for cultural exchange and growth. My initial interest in Fulbright was rooted in a desire to participate in these interactions and was amplified as I learned of the opportunities to approach other cultures with a humbled-perspective, allowing myself to simply absorb and learn from these communities. It is because of this desire to understand other cultures that I am excited to be a semi-finalist for the Fulbright Student Program.” - Emma Labovitz

Emma was originally drawn to apply for the Fulbright program because of her “obligation to help others live a life of dignity.” The great-granddaughter of a Russian refugee, Emma was inspired by her family’s history and by reading What is the What, a novel about a Sudanese refugee by Dave Eggers. This inspiration was behind Emma’s fundraising work to benefit the construction of a school in South Sudan.

“Answers to my questions about immigration policy, the political and cultural impact of refugees, and how to bridge the divide between a commitment to human rights and the political realities of managing refugee populations will emerge from my studies and immersion in the city...With this educational program, set in a multicultural city and surrounded by members of the global community, my perception of immigration will inherently shift, forcing me outside the expectations established by my experience.”

Emma plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Public Administration of Governance of Migration and Diversity at Erasmus University in the Netherlands to “learn about humanity’s differences and seek ways to overcome the perceived divide between migrant communities.” Her research and study in the Netherlands will continue to build upon data she collected in January 2018 on the political and cultural repercussions of refugees in Sweden. Emma hopes to pursue an internship with the Dutch Council for Refugees in Rotterdam to experience an intimate view of the resettlement process.

“Through reexamining my own culture juxtaposed against that of my new home, I hope to more clearly understand both the depths of and rationale for the discrepancies between my beliefs and those of my host country. By working within the community of Rotterdam, I can work to reconcile my perception of the immigration system of the Netherlands with the reality of the refugee crisis and search more broadly for an answer to my questions about the long-term political effects of massive migration to the Netherlands and Europe.”


The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government.  The program operates in over 160 countries worldwide and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. To learn more about the Fulbright Program and other Nationally Competitive Scholarships, visit https://ncs.appstate.edu and https://us.fulbrightonline.org.

Congratulations again to Appalachian’s semi-finalists, Lindsey Bearss, Shaina Katz, Emma Labovitz, and Johnna Reisner, and good luck as you advance to the final round of selection!

emma fullbright
Published: Feb 19, 2018 1:15pm