Wondra awarded Fulbright for Russian studies

MOUNT VERNON – Cornell College senior Nic Wondra of Centennial, Colo. has received a Fulbright Award for 2009-2010 to study the educational system of the Republic of Georgia.

people_nicholas_wondra_naWondra, a Russian and international relations major who is fluent in Russian, will perform a side-by-side study analyzing two Republic of Georgia high schools in order to determine effective reforms for urban and rural schools. He will also examine the role foreign aid plays in these schools.

“I know we have a history of excellent Fulbright Scholars at Cornell, and I’m pleased to represent the college in the ranks of past students,” said Wondra.

The study will analyze the effectiveness of educational reform during the current presidential term of Mikheil Saakashvili. Wondra said he will look at family income, propensity to continue on to higher education, the urban-rural difference, funding levels and other indicators in the study.

This won’t be the first time Wondra has represented Cornell overseas. Wondra previously held a three-month Cornell Fellowship in Armenia, where he worked for the U.S. State Department. While there he drafted official communication briefs to Washington on topics such as human rights, economics, judicial proceedings, and local projects. He also participated in fact-finding missions during the protests and military crackdowns that gained worldwide attention in the days following the incarceration of an Armenian parliamentary official. Wondra visited with protesters, a hunger-striker, and a police chief in a region north of Yerevan.

Wondra called his three-month internship “the most rewarding and edifying work experience I have ever had.”

For his Fulbright studies, Wondra hopes to publish his results and begin a career in international policy-making, research and teaching. Though Wondra has never been to Georgia, he adds this experience to his travels and study in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, and Estonia. He looks forward to this opportunity to directly contribute to policy research and impact the common good. His primary areas of interest are international policy in education and finance.

The study will last approximately 11 months, starting next fall, with the support of the Caucasus Research Resource Center in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. After the study Wondra will pursue graduate study and further research in international relations and political economy with the aim of becoming a professor or serving with the U.S. State Department.

The Fulbright Award is a scholarship awarded as part of the Fulbright Program to foster international research and collaboration. The Fulbright Program “aims to increase mutual understanding between the peoples of the United States and other countries, through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.”