Jackson Got Fulbright, Took Trip of Lifetime

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Stephanie Jackson never thought she could even be considered for a Fulbright Scholarship — until she earned one in 2013.      

“I always thought that Fulbright Awards were only for students and faculty members — but I was wrong!” said the assistant director of Undergraduate Advising and Professional Development in the School of International Affairs.

Fulbright programs are offered to U.S. institution staff members in some Asian countries, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. For two to three weeks, participants travel to one of these countries to learn about best practices in higher education and share their own.

Jackson first learned about the program while attending a conference early in her advising career but wasn’t ready to apply until a few years ago. When she did, she was accepted into the UK’s pilot program.

For three weeks in August 2013, Jackson got to know 20 people from across the United States from a range of higher education roles including deans of students, provosts, advisors, and those in charge of assessment. They traveled to 11 institutions in 10 cities in England and Scotland.

“Three weeks is a long time to be traveling — but it was great,” she said. “We even visited institutions where Tech currently has education agreements. I really liked having a chance to see what our students see.”   

If you’re interested in applying for one of the Fulbright programs, Jackson recommends that you start volunteering with international education opportunities offered at Tech right away.

“The Fulbright programs are looking for people who are interested in international perspectives,” Jackson said. “So reach out to international student groups on campus and the Office of International Education and figure out ways to get involved.”

Read on to learn more about Jackson and her time at Georgia Tech.

How did you arrive in your current position?
When I was a kid, I wanted to be an ambassador — I think I’d say that because I wanted to have a different answer from the other kids. But I was always interested in global events. In college, I majored in political science with an emphasis in international relations. After graduation and working in federal government and nonprofit management for six years, I decided to leave Washington, D.C., to move to Atlanta to be near family. I’d heard of international education at universities but became more familiar with the concept through a national organization for student affairs professionals. I decided this sounded like a profession I’d do well in. A year after moving to Georgia, I was hired at Tech and have been here for eight years. 

What is an average day like?      
I’ll meet with students and discuss goals, and work with faculty members on things such as course scheduling and curriculum changes. I also spend time searching for career development opportunities such as fellowships with the Partnership for Public Service or internships with the Carter Center for both students and alumni. And every fall, I teach GT 1000 for International Affairs majors. 

What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Watching the evolution of students’ goals. When they arrive at Tech, most want to be diplomats, but I really enjoy teaching them about other options — for example, working for a nongovernmental organization or establishing a career in the intelligence community. And it’s the best when they go on one of these routes and get in touch with me after graduation to share their stories. 

What piece of technology could you not live without?
The music app Spotify.

What is the greatest risk you’ve ever taken — and did it pay off?  
It was moving to Atlanta without a job — and it absolutely paid off! 

Where is your favorite spot on campus?  
The view from the Ferst Room on the seventh floor of the Library is gorgeous.

Where is your favorite place to have lunch?
It’s La Parrilla, and I always order the Enchiladas del Mar (seafood enchiladas).

Tell us something unique about yourself.  
Most people don’t know that I lived in Costa Rica twice (before the start of my career in D.C.).



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