Fulbright Spotlight: Lauren Rutherford '13 CLAS

This year, two honors students received Fulbright awards. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is about a year long, and offers research, study, and teaching opportunities in over 140 countries to recent graduates and graduate students. Applicants apply for either a research grant or for an ETA (English Teaching Assistantship), in a specific country. Below, hear from Lauren Rutherford ’13 CLAS about her award and upcoming international experiences. 

Grace Lassiter

Tell me a little about yourself (year, major, where you’re from, what you’ve been up to, etc.)

My name is Lauren Rutherford and I graduated from Villanova in 2013 with a Political Science major and minors in Spanish Studies, Communication, and Honors. I’m from Columbia, Maryland and have a large interest in politics and international relations. During my time at Villanova, I was heavily involved with Villanova’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, lived in SLC my sophomore year, and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain and Valparaiso, Chile.  The summer after college, I interned with Habitat for Humanity and with a Congresswoman on Capitol Hill. For nearly three years now (wow, time flies after Nova!) I’ve lived in San Francisco and worked for Google’s Legal Department. I’ve loved the city and working for Google-- it’s actually an even better company to work for than what people hear in the news.

What was the Fulbright application process like?

The application process was long and challenging at points, but overall it was a good, reflective experience. Applying to the research grant allowed me to narrow down what interests me within women’s rights, and it gave me a reason to reach out to potential connections in the US and abroad about these topics. I was pleasantly surprised to realize how many people were willing to assist me in the application process, or connect me to others who may be able to help in a different way.

Tell us about your program (where you are going, what you’ll be doing).

I will participate in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, conducting research into women’s reproductive rights in Colombia for 10 months. I will look into the legislative and medical implementation of Colombia’s abortion law first with a university in Bogota, and then with a women’s health center in Medellin. Additionally, I plan to work with a few NGOs focused on women’s health and based in Latin America.

What made you choose to apply to this program?

I’ve been interested in the Fulbright program since my time at Villanova. I have several friends who completed Fulbright years, and I could see myself participating as well. I was intrigued by the opportunity to live abroad for a long period of time and travel. Initially, I saw myself applying for the English Teaching Assistantship. However, after a few years in the work world, my career interests have become clearer and I was encouraged (in part by Kurt from CURF!) to conduct a research project. 

What part of the program are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about creating a new home and sense of community in a different country. When I studied abroad in Madrid for a semester, I felt very at home by the end of my trip. I look forward to being able to create a home and routine in Bogota as well.  

Are you nervous? (If so, why?)

I am definitely nervous! I’ve never been to Colombia before, and it’s scary to picture myself there alone, searching for housing or trying to make friends. Still, I’m sure the nerves will pass once I’m in Colombia.

Do you have plans for post-Fulbright? (If so, what are they, and how do you think this program will prepare you for it?)

Post-Fulbright, I plan to go to graduate school for a Masters in Public Health and continue working for women’s reproductive rights.

Introduction written, and interviews conducted, by Newsletter Co-Editor, Richelle Hurley '17 CLAS. Richelle is receiving a degree in Communication, with minors in Classical Studies and Peace and Justice. 


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