Scholars are ‘ambassadors’ for Va. Tech

Scholars are ‘ambassadors’ for Va. Tech
4-line readin goes here.
By Kevin Miller, [email protected]
Saturday, May 15, 2004

BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech seniors Mathew Cahill and Tim Work were
well re of the quality competition they faced in their quests to land
Fulbright scholarships to Austria. All that either of the two Tech
honor students needed to do was glance at the other’s application.

“Back in the fall when we were applying, we would talk about how it
was going,” Cahill said this week. “And in the end, we were the only
ones left standing.”

Work and Cahill received Fulbright teaching assistantships and research
grants and will head to Vienna in the coming months to teach English
in the public schools and conduct research in their fields of interest.

They were among the nearly 3,500 Tech undergraduates to be honored
during Friday night’s commencement ceremony. Individual colleges and
departments will hold their own graduation ceremonies today .

Named for the late Sen. J. William Fulbright, the Fulbright program
is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program that
aims to “increase mutual understanding” and help develop “friendly,
sympathetic and peaceful relations” between the United States and
other nations, according to an informational pamphlet from the
Fulbright Association.

The Fulbright program operates in more than 140 countries worldwide,
providing grants for American students and scholars to work abroad and
for foreign students and scholars to work on U.S. campuses annually.

Five other Virginia Tech students – including just one other
undergraduate – have received Fulbright grants since 1999.

“Mat and Tim are truly extraordinary honors students with excellent
language skills in German,” said Barbara Cowles, associate director
of University Honors. “The University Honors Program and the Campus
Fulbright Committee feel that they will be wonderful ambassadors for
Virginia Tech and the United States.” Work, who double-majored in
history and art history, spent his junior year studying in Marburg,
Germany. The 21-year-old Virginia Beach native said he visited more
than 50 cities in Europe during his stay, which helped whet his
appetite for additional overseas study.

“I would say, with few doubts, that it was the best year of my life,”
Work said. He plans to live and work in Berlin during the summer
before beginning his studies at Vienna’s Ludwig-Boltzmann Institute for
Urban History Research. Work said he would like to study at Cambridge
University in England after completing the nine-month Fulbright
program. He eventually hopes to become an art history professor.

Cahill, 22, also already has extensive experience abroad. He spent
the fall semester of his junior year studying German politics in
Munich and then the spring semester interning at the U.S. Embassy in
Vienna. Cahill also worked as an election observer in Armenia with
the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which works
on security and economic issues, human rights and election monitoring
in 55 participating states in Europe, Central Asia and North America.

Cahill, who double-majored in international studies and German,
said he hopes the Fulbright program will open additional doors for him.

“My ultimate career goal is to be an ambassador,” said Cahill, who grew
up in Williamsburg. Explaining his attraction to Vienna, Cahill added:
“It’s pretty much the center of East and West coming together.”