May 30, 2012
Jeremy Munza had been waiting since last fall to learn whether he will be in Germany next fall as a Fulbright Scholar.
He applied for the scholarship in October, but it wasn't until March that he learned he had indeed been selected to be among approximately 1,600 U.S. students receiving the scholarship for 2012-13.
Waiting until he was notified was tough. At 8 a.m. on March 28 he checked his email and saw a message from the Fulbright program. He was in.
"It was very difficult. I'm an impatient person as it is," he said. "I found out I was a finalist in January, then had to make a German version of my application in February. I did day dream a lot and think about how incredible it would be to go back. I thought about it everyday and checked my mail, too.
Munza is from Idamay, W.Va., and graduated from North Marion County High School in 2008. He received a degree in business administration, accounting, and German at this year's WVU Commencement.
He had planned to take Spanish to fulfill a language requirement—he had done well in four years of it at North Marion—but was unable to enroll because of a scheduling problem. So he enrolled in German and loved it. The language was the perfect complement to his accounting studies. "It was an entirely different pace from business classes. It was a nice contrast," he commented.
Additionally, he was fascinated by the German history and culture he was learning about in his language classes. Most of his associations and understanding of Germany and Germans were tinted with the history of Nazis and World War II. "I originally only had the stereotype of the country and the stigma of its totalitarian past," he said. "But once I got to a certain point, I realized there was much more to the country and that I wanted to see Germany."
So, last year he signed up for a WVU Department of World Languages, Literature and Linguistics summer program in Fulda, Germany. "I was completely overwhelmed," he said. "I thought my language skills were up to par, but I was not ready."
After he had recovered from that shock and realization, Munza looked at his surroundings. Germany, he said, "was amazing" with architecture the likes of which simply does not exist in his home state. His stay included two weeks of classes in business German, a two-week internship and four weeks at an international summer university. On weekends he toured German.
"Every weekend I saw something different," he said, "and I realized I wanted to do something with Germany in the future. This was something I didn't want to lose." Munza, who intends to enroll in law school after his Fulbright experience, also admires the German nation and people. "I was impressed by how much they have overcome and by seeing how their businesses excel," he commented. "Everyone is incredibly nice, welcoming and warm. And they didn't get frustrated at my language being slow—they want to practice their English."
In fact, he will be teaching English in Nordrhein-Westfalen, in western Germany. Munza will leave for Germany in early September and return in late June. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma, and Delta Phi Alpha. He was also vice president of the WVU German Club and the WVU Pre-Legal Society.
This is the third time the University has had three Fulbright Scholars in the same year and the fifth time WVU has had multiple recipients since 1951. The University has had 30 students who have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships. More than 300,000 students, faculty and professionals have participated in the program since its inception in 1946.
The Fulbright Program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. It is designed to increase mutual understanding between the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of the Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.
The program operates in more than 155 countries around the world.