Jenna Brende from Renner, South Dakota, has earned a Fulbright award to attend Maastricht University in the Netherlands and pursue a master’s degree in art, literature and society. Brende graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in December 2017.
Her decision to apply for a master’s program abroad was influenced by a faculty-led study-abroad trip to Belgium and the Netherlands. It was during that trip that Brende first visited Maastricht University, and where she met Oscar van den Wijngaard, the project manager for retention and student persistence at Maastricht University’s Institute for Education Innovation. Now, two years later, Brende has been in contact with him to discuss a possible collaboration with the institute to conduct research on student retention there.
During her time at Nebraska, Brende was an active and involved student. She credits her experience in Career Services in helping to develop her people skills.
“My work as a peer career guide with Career Services informs my ability to relate to people of all age groups, academic abilities and cultures, as well as my mentorship and advising, which inspires me to continue to work with students,” Brende said.
Fulbright recipients are encouraged to expand their experience via volunteering or community outreach, and Brende intends to work with Maastricht University’s student-support services. Upon returning from the Netherlands, Brende plans to use her experiences to obtain a position as a higher-education administrator. Her main goals are to enact change from within a university system and help students identify available resources through mentorship and academic engagement. Brende also hopes to continue raising awareness about the importance of the humanities and advocating for their place in higher education.
The Fulbright Program, established in 1946 and funded by the U.S. Department of State, is designed to foster understanding between the United States and other countries. The U.S. Student Fulbright program gives recent graduates, graduate students and young professionals the opportunity to conduct research, study or teach in one of 160 designated countries. Students such as Brende are awarded the Fulbright on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.