Campus News

Undergrad heads to England, thanks to a US-UK Fulbright Scholarship


Published June 21, 2018

headshot of Anna Dresnack.

Anna Dresnack

Anna Dresnack, a rising junior majoring in English and psychology, has received a scholarship from the US-UK Fulbright Commission to attend the 2018 UK Summer Institute at the University of Sussex.

It’s the fifth year in a row that a UB student has been awarded this scholarship, which covers airfare, accommodations, tuition and fees, and a meal allowance.   

The four-week program focuses on British culture and allows students to study what reflects their interests, such as theater, history, literature or art. Aside from attending classes, participants interact with students from around the world, go on field trips and explore nearby Brighton, a historic, seaside resort on the southern coast of England.

Megan Stewart, fellowships and scholarships adviser at UB, says this scholarship is unique in that it is only offered to freshmen and sophomores, as many prestigious awards are reserved for juniors and seniors. She also explains why she thinks Dresnack received this prestigious award: “Anna has a pretty strong sense of self, which is reflected in her essays. She was able to write about a topic (diversity in literature) that is resonant with her. It was genuine and very powerful.”

In this Q&A with UBNow, Dresnack, a Brockport native, discusses her choice of majors, what she will study in Sussex and her experience applying for the US/UK Fulbright award.

Why English and psychology?

AD: I am also a biology minor, so this is a question I receive a lot. People view these three fields as separate. English and biology in particular are often viewed as opposites. However, each of these fields is concerned with understanding humans. Biology looks at people from the outside in. In biology, the idea of what you see, the physical stuffs that make us, is what is most important. English looks at people from the inside out: what you can’t see, such as our thoughts and feelings. Psychology straddles these two concepts of what makes us human, so studying all three of these fields gives one the most complete understanding of people.

Why did you apply for this particular Fulbright program?

AD: It was honestly a struggle deciding which to apply for. I was debating between three different institutes that all sounded equally as interesting. I asked for both Megan Stewart’s opinion and the opinion of one of my references. I eventually decided on Sussex because I felt I could best articulate why I was interested in Britishness and British culture, as opposed to the themes of the other institutes.

Which module did you choose?

AD: I am taking a module entitled “The Royals: The British Monarchy through Art and Architecture,” which focuses on studying the various royal art collections and residences in order to understand how the British royal family has shaped their country through patronage of the arts and architecture. I chose this module because I felt it was the best and most unique way to explore Britishness and British culture. I can read ‘Oliver Twist’ in America; I can’t visit multiple royal residences in America.

Have you traveled outside the U.S. before? Are you traveling anywhere besides Sussex on this trip?

AD: I have never been outside the U. S. before. I do plan on exploring other cities in England during this trip, including trips to London and Stonehenge. Unfortunately, I will not even have the time to go up to Scotland, much less anywhere else in Europe.

Have you won any scholarships before this one?

AD: No, not any other nationally competitive scholarships comparable to this one. But I am currently receiving the University at Buffalo Provost Scholarship, a merit scholarship that provides financial support for my four years as an undergraduate. I also received several local scholarships during high school.

What do you think set your application/essay apart?

AD: I think being in one humanities discipline, one social science discipline and one hard science discipline helped me stand out as someone with a wide range of interests and the ability to connect to a lot of different people. Also, one of the essay prompts asked me to discuss a current affairs issue in the U.S. that was important to me. I was lucky that the issue I am most passionate and informed about — the push for diversity in media, as best seen through the “We Need Diverse Books” and #ownvoices movements — happened to be unique. I did my best to accurately represent who I am as a person by writing only about the topics that I am most excited about, and it seems as if my passion was present enough to make an impact.

What are your academic or career goals?

AD: I’m planning on earning a Master of Library Science (MLS). I am most interested in working in a college library or as an archivist. I am also planning to pursue a PhD in English literature in order to possibly become a professor. I am hoping to enjoy my last two years as an undergrad learning about the multitude of subjects that interest me, trying to decide what sort of literature I want to study and hoping to test out my PhD plans by doing an English departmental honors thesis.

What is your advice for students who want to apply for scholarships and other awards?

AD: Know yourself and know the award you are applying for. What about who you are makes you the best person to meet the goals of the award or the awarding organization? Write your essays with that thought in mind.