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Fulbright experience a growth opportunity for Jeren Stewart

Barry McNamara
08/31/2018
Jeren Stewart wades into Loch Lomond during his three-week Fulbright experience in Scotland this summer.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Jeren Stewart ’20 hoped his experience as a Fulbright student in Scotland would set him up for a strong second half to his Monmouth College education.

It did that, and then some.

“It was a really great experience,” said Stewart, a Peoria, Ill., resident who returned in August from the three-week Fulbright Scotland Summer Institute on Technology, Innovation and Creativity.

Hosted by the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde, the academic and cultural program for U.S. students is one of the most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs in the world.

“It was an opportunity to grow, to get out of my shell, my comfort zone,” said Stewart. “I did a lot of things I wouldn’t have done here. I experienced as much as I could, and I pushed myself past the limits of my comfort zone.”

Part of that growth was a leap in confidence that Stewart gained as he interacted with the nine other Fulbright students, all of whom came from much larger universities.

“I was nervous at first, but as the program went on, I considered (being from Monmouth) an advantage,” he said. “The others weren’t as involved in extracurricular activities as I am. Most of them were very major-oriented. ... I think the size of Monmouth makes a huge difference in having meaningful relationships with faculty, staff and advisers.”

In addition to being vice president of the Associated Students of Monmouth College, Stewart is a member of the Fighting Scots football team and participates in a mentoring group for youth. He also works for the College’s Wackerle Career and Leadership Center, helping students discern what they ultimately want to do professionally and what they want to study at Monmouth to prepare for their careers.

For Stewart, those subjects are business and accounting, and he also has an eye on architecture, which he was able to see in many shapes and forms in Scotland.

“I was impressed by how they took various styles of architecture – Gothic, Victorian and modern – and how it all worked so well together,” he said. “I was also interested in some of their internal structures and concepts.”

Stewart said the office of BBC Scotland and the Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh were highlights, in addition to a castle he visited.

“Scotland was really beautiful – there was a lot of green,” he said. “We visited the Highlands, we visited a beach. The countryside was beautiful, although the weather left a little to be desired. It was a little gloomy, and there was often a light rain or mist.”

Stewart was also impressed with the “Technology, Innovation and Creativity” portion of the institute.

“Scotland has a very innovative culture,” he said. “It was interesting to see how creative they are in what they do – seeing the smaller size of the country compared to how many things they actually get done with technology.”

The people of Scotland also made an impression, from fast-food workers and people he met on the streets of Glasgow, to the faculty and leaders he met through the institute.

“The opportunity to have that network of new contacts was a big part of the trip,” he said. “Even having the other students who were there with me as contacts – it’s going to open up a lot of doors for me.”