Ukrainian Fulbright Scholar visiting campus

September 29, 2014
Inna Stepaniuk

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.- Inna Stepaniuk, a Fulbright Scholarship recipient, is spending the 2014-15 academic year at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to enhance her knowledge and abilities in special education and inclusive education.

Originally from Zhytomyr, Ukraine, Stepaniuk began the Fulbright Scholar process nearly two years ago, after having made a connection with Dr. Daniel Leitch, 
assistant program coordinator
 and assistant director for the School of Education at UW-Platteville.

Stepaniuk and Leitch met while working at a home for adults with disabilities in Ukraine, which was part of Leitch’s three-semester long Fulbright Scholar term during December 2012 where he conducted university courses for pre-service teachers and spoke at conferences and seminars. Subsequently, he encouraged Stepaniuk to consider the Fulbright Scholarship Award Program as a means to travel to UW-Platteville and agreed to be her sponsor.

The Fulbright Scholarship Award Program, established by the United States Congress in 1946, is considered to be highly competitive, as hundreds of students from multiple countries apply each year. The program is intended to promote solid international relationships with connections to fields of education, culture and science.

“My experience has been especially rewarding because I already had a connection with my sponsor,” said Stepaniuk. “Taking advantage of that helped make sure that my interests were met once I arrived.”

Leitch has no regrets recommending Stepaniuk for this award program.

“I’m so happy to be Inna’s sponsor,” said Leitch. “She is a truly amazing, intelligent person and also very proactive.”

A committee is responsible for reviewing the submitted applications and selects students based upon academic achievement and involvement, as well as interests pertaining to future career goals and plans.

Leitch praises Stepaniuk for achieving such high standards.

“The review process is not subjective, it is more objective,” said Leitch. “They want to see a good research proposal and that the applicant has intent to bring something back to the Ukraine and that it is relevant.”

Specific to applicants like Stepaniuk, not from the United States and looking to study in the country, the committee also takes into consideration the score those students receive on the Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Stepaniuk said that her original intent was to go into human resources and that teaching was a possibility that she only considered after having received the scholarship and explored the new opportunities available to her.

“With the Fulbright I’m now taking part in classes with the subject of management with disabilities as well as introduction to inclusion,” said Stepaniuk.  “I’m also observing classes.”

Stepanuik will be studying at UW-Platteville for a total of nine months and is currently learning to adjust to major culture differences.

“One of the biggest differences that I have experienced is the diversity of the United States,” said Stepaniuk. “Different people from different countries come together to live, work and communicate with one another. This makes the United States a unique country and a home for a variety of cultures.”

Stepanuik is overall delighted by the individualism of Americans and their freedom to express themselves which, in her opinion, is vital to a country’s growth and development.

The Fulbright Scholarship Award Program is something that Stepaniuk said she is very grateful for as she is hopeful to bring new techniques regarding special and inclusive education back to her home country.

“I would say that the most significant opportunity is to change your life, along with the way you perceive the world and people,” said Stepaniuk. “It is like a new birth in conscious adult life. It’s a great and unforgettable experience in the field of your science interest.”

Written by: Shelby Le Duc, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, leducs@uwplatt.edu

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