National Security Major Earns Prestigious Fulbright Fellowship
Cole Kochanowski ’22 was recently awarded the highly competitive Fulbright-Hays Fellowship, which will enable him to study Persian in Tajikistan this summer. He is looking forward to the opportunities the experience will create for him to excel in the field of national security.
May 5, 2022
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Cole Kochanowski ’22 grew up in and around military families, and he saw the impact and importance of service. From an early age, he found that helping others was something he was passionate about. It was when he began his time as a Charger that he developed a strong interest in national security and in the many opportunities for service within the field.
Kochanowski, who will receive his bachelor’s degree in national security this month at Commencement, was also intrigued by the myriad career possibilities within the field. His passion was recently recognized, as he was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship – an award of more than $5,000 – that will enable him to study Persian in Tajikistan, a country of nearly 10 million in central Asia, this summer.
“When I found out I received the Fulbright Fellowship, I was incredibly honored,” said Kochanowski, a criminal justice minor. “It was not until afterward when I was telling my family about it that I learned of the award’s prestige. Now, knowing the significance of the Fellowship, I am so proud and I feel much more confident in my ability to thrive after graduation.”
‘Further my career’
A Fulbright program funded through a Congressional appropriation to the U.S. Department of Education, the Fulbright-Hayes Program awards grants to students as well as teachers, faculty, institutions, and organizations. The funding supports their research and training overseas that focuses on non-Western foreign languages and studies.
Kochanowski will use his award to take part in the Eurasian Regional Language Program (ERLP), an American Councils program that offers instruction in more than 15 Eurasian languages. The highly individualized program will offer him experiences, such as homestays, that will enable him to immerse himself in daily life in Tajikistan.
In addition, his time in the classroom each week will provide instruction on topics such as culture, literature, and politics, and he will take part in excursions and cultural activities. He hopes these excursions will support his interests in national security and environmental conservation.
“Because volunteering opportunities are also available, I hope to find one at Camp America, a U.S. Embassy Public Affairs program that offers Tajik children an opportunity to spend a week playing and learning in an American-style summer camp,” said Kochanowski. “I'll be able to utilize American Council staff and resources to find other opportunities in my fields of interest to further my career.”
‘I gained confidence and resilience’
In Tajikistan, Kochanowski will have the contact hours he’ll need to learn Persian, a language he says is critical to national security in the U.S. He is excited about the opportunities it will provide him to excel in his career.
“In national security, there is an emphasis on language study and experience abroad because it is important to gain a worldly perspective,” he explains. “The ERLP allows participants to engage in excursions and cultural activities. Activities outside of the classroom are designed to give participants a deeper understanding of life, culture, and history in the host country, and I hope to return to the United States with a deeper understanding of the region and to be able to apply that to my career.”
As a Charger, Kochanowski had myriad experiences that, he says, have prepared him to succeed. He recently completed his capstone project, which focused on the implications of climate change in national security – something he says may be the greatest threat to U.S. national security.
“The University has provided me with many leadership opportunities that have led to my success,” he said. “Through the positions I’ve held, I gained confidence and resilience that I will carry with me throughout my career.”
‘He pushed me to be a better student’
It was the connections he made as a Charger that enabled Kochanowski to land an internship with the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Office at FEMA Headquarters, which inspired his passion to study climate change through the lens of national security. It is an important issue he plans to focus on throughout his career.
After spending his summer in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Kochanowski plans to return to the U.S. and to work in the intelligence field. He also hopes to pursue a career in the foreign service as a U.S. diplomat. Grateful for the leadership, academic, and networking opportunities he has had at the University, Kochanowski says he is especially appreciative of the encouragement and support of one of his professors in particular.
“I would not have applied to continue my education abroad and to develop my language skills if it weren’t for Dr. Matthew Schmidt,” said Kochanowski. “He pushed me to be a better student, a better writer, and more invested in my future. I would have never considered American Councils or the Fulbright if it were not for Dr. Schmidt.”