The title of Fulbright Scholar is considered one of the most prestigious in academia.
Among Fulbright alumni are 37 former heads of state or government, 59 Nobel Prize winners, and 82 Pulitzer Prize winners from all regions of the world.
Count St. Louis Community College’s Christopher Sulincevski among them. Sulincevski, the college’s coordinator of international programs, was chosen as a Fulbright Scholar in 2017.
As noted in a recent edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education, STLCC is one of 25 community colleges in the United States to have an individual selected as a Fulbright Scholar in 2017-18.
Sulincevski, who has been at STLCC for 14 years, was among a group of 10 who received a grant to participate in the Fulbright U.S.-Japan International Education Administrators (IEA) Seminar. These seminars help U.S. international education professionals and senior higher education officials connect with the societal, cultural and higher education systems of other countries. Grantees have the opportunity to learn about the host country’s education system, as well as establish networks of U.S. and international colleagues over the course of an intensive two-week grant period. Grantees return with enhanced ability to serve and encourage international students and prospective study-abroad students.
“Besides making many new contacts at the universities I visited who could be potential partners for study abroad and exchanges, I learned a lot about the country, culture and education system,” Sulincevski said. “All of those things will help me in developing programs and partnerships in and with Japan.”
Sulincevski noted that the Japanese education system is very different from that of the United States in terms of management and regulation, infrastructure, hiring practices and other aspects.
“The Ministry of Education and Sport dictates the educational system from the top down,” he said. “The education system is very conservative and the hierarchy is critical, just like in the Japanese culture and family.”
Japanese high school students who are accepted into the more prestigious universities, he added, have a greater chance of being hired by large international corporations.
“As freshmen and sophomores, they prepare to and study how to apply for employment with large corporations. They interview as juniors with the corporations,” Sulincevski said. “It’s a very competitive process, and is primarily based on how well they impress with the application and interview process, not so much with their college grades. Students don’t really need to show too much technical knowledge because the corporations put them through rigorous and versatile training once hired. And once hired, they tend to stay with one corporation until they retire.”
Sulincevski also observed that Japanese students have an interest to travel abroad, but not necessarily to move and live abroad.
During his stay, Sulincevski said the group visited several colleges and universities, high schools, major recruiting companies, and historical and cultural tourist sites. They also met with Japanese Fulbright alumni.
“Learning about the Japanese culture and people was amazing,” he said.
And now as a Fulbright Alumni, Sulincevski serves as a program ambassador. He recently participated in a Missouri Fulbright Alumni Forum at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., to promote the Fulbright program to interested students.
Sulincevski is STLCC’s second Fulbright Scholar. Angela Hamilton, associate professor of English at the Meramec campus, was selected in 2013-14. She taught master’s-level courses in world literature and literature of resistance at the University of Jordan in Amman.
About the Fulbright Program
The Fulbright program is considered the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and countries around the world. Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright program has provided more than 380,000 participants with the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
Currently, the Fulbright program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.