Ilana McQuinn, PhD Student | History

2016-2017 Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellow

With the Fulbright-Hays, Ilana McQuinn conducted research on a growing cultural interest in Jewish narratives in literary, cinematic, and theatrical works in 1960s Poland and Czechoslovakia.

What drew you to the Fulbright-Hays program? What about it seemed like a good fit for you and your work at the time that you were applying?

I had three primary reasons for applying to the Fulbright-Hays. First, I was proposing a multi-country project, and the Fulbright-Hays is one of the few countries that allows both enough time and flexibility to visit multiple countries. Second, the Fulbright-Hays allows your dependent(s) to travel with you and gives a maintenance allowance that actually makes it feasible to bring your dependent(s) with you. Finally, the grant’s affiliation with the Fulbright program meant that I was able to have contact with and support from local Fulbright programs, which was particularly helpful with arranging documents for visa purposes.  

What has Fulbright-Hays meant to you and your work? Is there a particular experience that stands out? Or, something that you hadn’t counted on that has since proven important for you or your research?

Although this wasn’t a reason I originally chose the Fulbright-Hays, I was very appreciative of the independence I was given with the Fulbright-Hays. This allowed me to be flexible with my research agenda and to follow new leads and ideas as they emerged. The Fulbright-Hays was also very generous with my stipend for research materials, which enabled me to pursue several computational methodologies I had hoped to utilize for my research before beginning my grant. Finally, my connections in-country that I established at the outset proved immensely useful in providing me with opportunities to share my work and connecting me with other local scholars, which often led to new and useful research directions.  

Fulbright-Hays is known to have a rigorous application and selection process. Is there any advice you would offer students who are thinking about applying?

Begin the application process early! Utilize the resources in your department and at UChicago GRAD to understand what the application and reviewer process is like. I both went to a writing group organized by the Fellowship specialist in UChicago GRAD and asked colleagues who were willing to share their applications and reviewer comments (both successful and unsuccessful). While you’re required to address specific components for the statement, formats vary significantly so go with what seems to fit your project best.