We checked in with Honors Alumni Carl “Nate” Ober, CLAS '13, who is currently participating in the Fulbright Program in Aarhus, Denmark. Nate graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Honors, in Humanities and History, and with a minor in Peace & Justice. Nate’s study as a Fulbright Scholar focuses on the investigation of the Danish welfare system and what the United States could potentially gain from this system. He is taking masters-level courses at Aarhus University’s Department of Political Science and Government and is conducting interview-based research on the Danish welfare model, a tax-financed collection of social security programs, services and benefits which provide all Danish citizens with free public healthcare, free university tuition, heavily subsidized childcare and elderly care, generous parental leave and unemployment benefits as well as job training programs. Nate explained that Denmark is consistently ranked among the most socially mobile, most economically equal, and happiest countries in the developed world. Nate continues to explain, “I believe that Americans have much to learn from Denmark.” Nate’s research includes interviewing elected Danish officials, government workers and other stakeholders to learn firsthand how the Danish welfare model works and to gain insight into the different attitudes of elected officials toward the model.
Nate credits his semester abroad in Copenhagen for his inspiration to apply for the Fulbright Program. Nate studied abroad in the spring of his junior year through the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in their Justice and Human Rights Program. Nate explains that he truly could write a book about how the DIS program changed his life, but he said that it specifically led him to the pursuit of further study in domestic politics and public policy rather than international law. This decision was especially influenced by a course in the DIS program that was taught by a former member of the Danish Parliament. He saw the Fulbright grant as a way to continue this research, while also preparing for graduate school.
The Honors program certainly played a role in Nate’s decision to apply for the Fulbright program as well. Nate explains, “The discussion-based, reading and writing-intensive Honors courses I took at Villanova prepared me to be an active participant in my classes here.” Nate said he also received encouragement from other Honors Fulbright scholars and recipients of other fellowships as well. “The enthusiasm with which they spoke about their time abroad or their goals after graduation convinced me to study abroad and influenced my decision to apply for a Fulbright grant.” Nate also credits Honors faculty with his motivation to apply and preparation for the program and explains that he has stayed in touch with many of them since arriving in Denmark.
Nate encourages any student, graduate or undergraduate, who is interested in the Fulbright Program, to apply. “The Fulbright application process provided me an opportunity for self-reflection which proved invaluable as I began life after Villanova.” Nate also adds that anyone who was not initially awarded a Fulbright grant should definitely consider re-applying. Additionally, Nate encourages any student interested and with the means to spend time abroad in some capacity after Villanova to do so. “Dwelling in a different country and culture and meeting people from all over the world has been a stimulating and exhilarating experience which has taught me so much and helped me grow as a person.” Nate explains that the exposure to so many new ideas and cultures has provided alternative possibilities for ultimately living a good life. Nate provides one last piece of advice: “Honors upperclassmen and women: don’t worry about post-graduation plans. Enjoy your remaining time as undergraduates at Villanova.”
Written by Newsletter Co-Editor, Margaret Shull, LAS '16. Margaret is receiving a degree in French and Francophone Studies and Honors, with a concentration in Ethics and Healthcare.