Iris Thatcher – Finalist, Finland, Open Study/Research
Class of 2019, Finnish Language & Cultural Studies, Political Economy majors
I grew up in Seattle, and my mom is from Finland. I was able to speak Finnish as a child, but I never has Finnish citizenship nor lived in Finland at any point in time. It wasn’t until I went to the University of Washington (UW) that I had an academic interest in Finnish. During my time at UW, I cultivated a focus in European politics through my Finnish language and political economy majors. I knew that in the long-term, I wanted to further develop my Finnish language comprehension and look deeper into European and global politics. The Scandinavian Studies Department is a unique asset that we have at UW, and I knew it would be challenging to find the right Finnish/political economy master’s program that I wanted in the U.S. As a result, I applied to do a Fulbright in Finland with Tampere University’s Leadership for Change master’s program, where it focuses on EU, Northern European and EU-Russian relations. This Fulbright to Tampere allows me to continue to develop my academic interests, while also sharing my Finnish-American background with other students as a representative from the U.S. Moreover, this Fulbright grant helps me better achieve my goals in working in an international organization (IGO). I would like to work for United Nations or North Atlantic Treaty Organization in some capacity, and the skills that I will gain from this experience abroad will give me a specialized, transatlantic approach in helping the U.S. better its decision-making within IGOs.
Iris’ tip: Ask for help and listen to all of the feedback that you get! Applying for a grant/scholarship is a completely different process from other applications. You have to show why you are the perfect candidate for that specific grant. By getting advice from your recommenders, professors and scholarship advisors on how to show that, you will be better prepared for navigating this process successfully.