Lancaster University

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Fulbright Scholar impressed with Lancaster

03/05/2009 14:03:07

Cassandra Farrin at the Duomo in Florence
Cassandra Farrin in Florence this winter

The Fulbright Scholar at Lancaster University says the experience has given her a different perspective on life. Cassandra Farrin was awarded a £20,000 Fulbright Scholarship to study for a one year Masters degree in Religious Studies. She is one of only 13 US citizens out of several hundreds who were accepted for postgraduate scholarships to study in the UK after a rigorous application process through the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

Previous Fulbright scholars have included the poet Sylvia Plath, Baroness Shirley Williams, politician Charles Kennedy and the novelists Ian Rankin and Malcolm Bradbury. 18 Fulbright alumni have served as head of state or government, 11 Fulbright alumni have been elected to US Congress and 39 Fulbright Alumni from 10 countries have received the Nobel Prize, including 2 in 2008.

Originally from Idaho in the US, Cassandra did her first degree at Willamette University in Oregon before deciding to study abroad. Her ultimate aim is to obtain a PhD and teach in the US.

She said: “I’d studied religion in Japan but wanted to come to England to get more of a European perspective. I thought very carefully about where I wanted to study and did a lot of research but I eventually chose Lancaster because I was impressed with the Religious Studies programme here. Every professor in the Department has a different perspective which would be unusual in the US. There, it’s more specialised and you don’t have such a range of views so I feel it’s more eclectic here.”

Another attraction of Lancaster is its rural setting and proximity to the Lake District.

“It sounded really pretty and it is. I wanted to be in a more rural area close to the Lake District and the coast and I always go and visit places all the time. If I’d lived in London, I wouldn’t have known about the North West and the regional identity as well as the different accent. I’ve even learned to talk about the weather which is what we learnt about at the orientation class!”

She now plans to run an information session at CEEC for Lancaster University students about applying for a Fulbright scholarship to the US. The US-UK Fulbright Commission was founded by Senator J William Fulbright in 1948 to promote learning and understanding through educational exchange. Every year, around 50 UK and 50 US citizens are funded to study at leading institutions in the host country. It is the only bi-national transatlantic academic awards programme between the US and the UK.