DU PhD Student Wins Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship

meseret-hailu-office-of-graduate-studies-university-of-denverHappy week 5 everyone! You’re halfway to your well deserved winter break. This week we’re thrilled to share with you the journey of University of Denver PhD student, Meseret Hailu. Meseret was recently awarded the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship to conduct her dissertation research in Ethiopia. We had the chance to sit down with her last week and learn more about her research and application experience. Meseret is a third-year Ph.D. student enrolled in the Higher Education program in the Morgridge College of Education. Her research interests are grounded in comparative international education, with a special emphasis on gender issues in STEM programs for Black immigrant women in the U.S.

What research will you be conducting in Ethiopia for your Fulbright? In my proposed study, I question what factors lead to the persistence of women in undergraduate science and technology majors at universities in Ethiopia. To do this I will be employing the use of a sequential, exploratory mixed-methods design that requires both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative portion will include recruiting 30 undergraduate women who have studied a science or technology discipline at the three specific, public universities. I will conduct semi-structured interviews with them to understand these women’s lived experiences and identify factors that have helped them succeed and graduate. The next step will be to use emerging themes from the interview transcripts to design a quantitative survey instrument. This electronic survey will be extensively distributed until responses from approximately 275 women (across all public universities) are received to ensure statistical reliability. Ultimately, this research is important because it can influence future development of education policy and highlight the resilience of women.

Who are you working with? My primary mentor and advisor is Dr. Frank Tuitt, Special Advisor to the Chancellor and Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, and Professor of Higher Education. In addition, I work with Dr. Tesfaye Semela, Professor at School of Education and Training at Hawassa University in Ethiopia. 

What steps did you take to apply for the Fulbright-Hays program? I regularly checked the International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) listserv through the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. The application for the   Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad (DDRA) Program was open for about a month, and I worked closely with my adviser to develop a study and submit an application.

What are you looking forward to and what are some challenges you might face? I am looking forward to doing my first-large scale study, and I anticipate it will be challenging   being far away from people and resources that I can readily find on campus at DU.

What advice do you have for other students interested in applying for a Fulbright? Try to explain every stage of your research plan. Ambiguity diminishes the credibility of an application, so make sure you are clear about what you intend to do at every step of data collection and analysis. Also, subscribe to the IFLE newsletter.

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