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Professor Garners International Honor

Professor Garners International Honor


April 9, 2012

What do 43 Nobel Prize winners, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford, Pulitzer-winner Sylvia Plath, and Lyndon State College’s Dr. Margaret Sherrer all have in common?

They have been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

“To say I’m thrilled to be selected as a Fulbright Scholar is an understatement.” Sherrer said. “I’m still a bit overwhelmed at the news, to be honest. I’ve had a passionate and longstanding interest in India going back to my childhood.”

The Fulbright Program is the international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” Participants are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential and are given the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.

Sherrer will spend the spring 2013 semester in Kerala, a state at the southwestern tip of the Indian subcontinent. She will be teaching and conducting research on the development of mental health services for people with serious psychiatric disorders.

“My professional interests coincide with India’s developing infrastructure in mental health care. These four months will provide me with a deeper understanding of social work as an emerging profession in Kerala, a region exceedingly rich with respect to ethnicity, religion, cultural beliefs and practices. Among the more traditional segments of the population, there is reliance on religious and traditional healers to address physical and psychological disorders.” Sherrer said.

“I’m truly excited at the prospect of examining how mental health problems are conceptualized and addressed within this diverse, multicultural context. In turn, I hope to share my expertise with faculty, students, and clinicians in the field.”

The impact of her experiences will resonate long after her return. “Certainly, my students will derive benefit from my enhanced knowledge of mental health practices. I’m very interested in developing contacts in India that will enable me to create service learning opportunities for LSC students.”

Since its inception in 1946, the program has had approximately 294,000 “Fulbrighters” and awards about 7500 new grants each year. Currently, the Fulbright Program operates in over 155 countries.

The Indian higher education system is one of the largest in the world with over 14 million students enrolled in more than 31,000 institutions. It faces three fundamental challenges of equity, access and quality. The Government of India boosted its spending on higher education to increase access and improve the quality of existing schools.

Talks between India and the U.S. have underlined education with both governments encouraging academic exchanges and alliances and led to the expansion of the Fulbright Program in India. Since 2008, India has supplied half of the Fulbright Program’s financial support in India. All scholar and student awards in India are now titled Fulbright-Nehru fellowships.