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Doner’s summer of Scotland includes Fulbright experience

Barry McNamara
Doner is pictured in front of the Glasgow Cathedral, which is nearly 900 years old. Also called the High Kirk of Glasgow, it was dedicated in 1136.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College student Joe Doner ’21 of Arlington Heights, Ill., was in Scotland twice this summer, and a third trip to the United Kingdom’s northernmost country could happen sooner rather than later.

Doner received a spot to study in one of the world’s most prestigious and selective summer scholarship programs. From July 22-Aug. 10, he attended the University of Strathclyde and the Glasgow School of Art through the Fulbright Scotland Summer Institute on Technology, Innovation and Creativity.

The Fulbright experience came a few weeks after Doner took part in the College’s “Literary Scotland” trip, led by Dean of the Faculty Mark Willhardt.

“While the first trip was focused on cultural aspects of Scotland and learning about writers and poets, my Fulbright experience was much more focused on Scotland as an industrial place – its capacity to build things, to invent things,” said Doner. “Glasgow’s a great post-industrial city, kind of a combination of American cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh and Detroit.”

Through the program, Doner was based in the heart of Glasgow, allowing him to “get anywhere really easily.”

“Going into the trip, I’d hoped I’d be able to learn from Scotland and the way it conducts itself, especially in business,” said Doner. “I believe Scotland does a lot of things right. So I was hoping to pick up on patterns and practices that I could bring back to Monmouth College and to my local community.”

Doner said that objective was achieved, as well as receiving a broader social and political outlook.

“One of things I enjoyed the most was meeting Scottish people (such as a chaperone with the program and a fellow student) and having some really interesting conversations with them, he said. “These were individuals who’ve lived in Scotland all their lives and really knew the people, not just the caricatures of Scottish people.”

Meetings with Scottish, U.S. officials

Another highlight was listening to and “speaking on a personal level with” Sir Harry Burns, the chief medical officer for Scotland from 2005-2014.

Doner and his fellow students also visited the U.S. Consulate in Edinburgh, where he talked to the head of the consulate. He had spent five days in Edinburgh earlier in the summer during the “Literary Scotland” trip.

An international studies and environmental studies double major, Doner plans to attend law school after graduating from Monmouth. He is not ruling out attending a law school in Scotland.

“The way that Scottish laws works is different from American or English law,” said Doner, who has reached the final round of the College’s Moot Court competition two years in a row. “The foundational philosophy is different. I think that seeing law in a different light will be helpful to me going forward.”

Beyond Monmouth

Doner hopes another Scottish trend will rub off on him, as well.

“I was impressed with how Scotland interacts with its people and with its companies, having more of an influence on what its companies do in alignment with the broader populace,” he said. “There are things to learn from that and to work toward, and I hope to take some of that into my career.”

Summer institutes such as the one Doner attended form part of the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission’s work to promote leadership, learning and empathy between nations through educational exchange. The program covers participants’ major costs and provides them with a distinctive support and cultural education program, including comprehensive pre-departure guidance, enrichment opportunities in country, and an opportunity to be part of the Fulbright alumni network.

In making its selections, the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission looks not only for academic excellence but also a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright program, and a plan to give back to the recipient’s home country upon returning.