April 22, 2013
Tom Dukes, ’13, enjoyed the experience of studying off-campus at the University of Tübingen so much he knew he had to get back to Germany someday.
Luckily for Dukes, he won’t have to wait long. The international studies and German major from Midland will return to Germany next year under a Fulbright Scholarship, teaching English to middle- and high school students.
“I was thinking I would get to spend a year in the place I love,” Dukes said in explaining his decision to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship last fall.
Not only did his semester abroad build his German language skills, but it showed him he could thrive in a different culture.
“There was a sense of satisfaction in surviving on my own,” he said, “but even more than that, I [enjoyed] the freshness of it. It was the most out of my comfort zone I had ever gone.”
Dukes also gained affection for the German people. After losing his cell phone on a bus, he related that the person who found it went through Dukes’ contact list to reach his mom in the United States who then relayed information about the whereabouts of the lost phone to him.
One of four students to receive the Prentiss M. Brown Honors Program award for outstanding senior thesis this spring, Dukes noted he has a heightened appreciation for history after working with Professor Christopher Hagerman on research about Josiah Harlan, the first American to travel to Afghanistan. Dukes and Hagerman transcribed Harlan’s journal, written in the mid-19th century, to get insights into how people at that time responded to a foreign culture.
“I liked reading fantasy books when I was younger,” Dukes said. “What pulls me to history is it keeps inventing better stories than writers could ever come up with. The twists and turns that history [takes] are fascinating . . . truth is stranger than fiction.”
Dukes, who has indicated he would like to work in the states of North Rhine Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, or Schleswig-Holstein, said the opportunity to live in Germany will allow him to weigh careers ranging from working overseas with a nongovernmental organization to using his minor in statistics to pursue actuarial science.
“No matter what I end up doing, the Fulbright Scholarship will provide a year of real-world experience in another country,” Dukes said.
Albion College alumni have received a total of 12 Fulbright awards over the past 10 years; 10 were named teaching fellows in Europe and Africa, and two received grants for research in Tanzania and Brazil, respectively.