Leigh Lassiter-Counts, a Monticello native and Hendrix College alumna and director of Career Discovery and Internships at Hendrix, recently received a Fulbright International Education Administrator Seminar Award from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
The International Education Administrators (IEA) seminars program helps international education professionals and senior higher education officials from the United States create empowering connections 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 duration.
Activities include campus visits with a cross-section of universities and colleges; briefings with faculty and administration, government officials, and leading educational experts at public and private institutions; and tours of historical and cultural sites. Grantees return with enhanced ability to serve and encourage international students and prospective study-abroad students.
Lassiter-Counts will attend a two-week seminar conducted by the Fulbright Commission in Berlin this fall. She and her cohort will spend the first half of the program in Berlin before dividing into subgroups to visit different higher education institutions in Germany. The group will spend the last three seminar days in Bonn meeting with fellow American University administrators who participated in a similar program in France.
“This is a terrific and well-deserved honor for Leigh, and I am thrilled that the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board recognizes her as a leader in the field,” said Dr. Peter Gess, Associate Provost for Engaged Learning. “This is also a great opportunity for the College: not only will Leigh be exposed to new ideas, her participation will directly lead to new options for our students in Germany, especially in the areas of study abroad, undergraduate research, internships and graduate studies. The greatest impact will be on our natural science students, as Germany has long been an international education leader in the STEM fields.”
“Participating in the Fulbright IEA Program in Germany will strengthen my ability to help students gain access to international internship, graduate school and employment opportunities,” said Lassiter-Counts. “It’s crucial for American college students to gain international experiences – no matter the field, global perspectives are key to understanding any job field.”
“One of the things I’m interested to explore more thoroughly through immersion with my German counterparts is their work with students in the sciences. Hendrix has a strong national reputation for producing exceptional science students, and for the quality of graduates we send on to medical, professional and graduate schools. One of the reasons behind this reputation was our early push for students to participate in undergraduate research long before it became the trend that it is today in American higher education,” she said. “I know the German education system places great importance on providing lab experiences for science undergraduates. I would love to hear more about how these experiences work, what relationships facilitated their incorporation and what work goes in to continue them presently.”
It can be a challenge to get students studying in the sciences to imagine participating in international experiences such as study or research abroad, Lassiter-Counts said.
“Through opportunities gained on this Fulbright IEA, I will show students tangible examples of what the sciences are like in Germany, and how showing graduate or professional schools that they have a global understanding of their scientific fields is something that can set students apart in the application process,” she said. “Providing more concrete examples of how students can attain international experiences – whether through study, research, or internships abroad – can help get these students to recognize the value of international experience.”
“The benefit this Fulbright award will bring to my students is what excites me most,” she said. “Being selected for this grant will allow me to create substantive opportunities for international career exposure for our students, and continue to help foster the growing ethos of engaged learning on our campus.”
A native of Monticello, Lassiter-Counts graduated cum laude in 2001 with an interdisciplinary studies major in history of medicine from Hendrix, where she received the President’s Medal, presented each year to that student who best exemplifies the highest ideals of the College, including excellence in scholarship, outstanding citizenship, and service to the community.
She received a master’s degree in higher education administration in 2003 from University of Arkansas Fayetteville, where she worked as an academic advisor at the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. She served as stewardship and development director at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. In 2005, she returned to Hendrix to work in the Office of Advancement and, in 2010, the Office Career Services. Since her arrival in 2010, Hendrix has experienced 99 percent overall growth in the number of students participating in the official internship program, with more than 170 students participating this year.
The award is part of the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program, which sends approximately 800 American scholars and professionals per year to approximately 130 countries, where they lecture and/or conduct research in a wide variety of academic and professional fields. The Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.