Thursday, May 30, 2024
student smiling

Spencer Cooper-Ohm, who received a BA in economics and English & creative writing from the University of Iowa in May 2024, is the winner of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Award to Kosovo for 2024-25. 

Hometown: Council Bluffs, Iowa 
Degree: BA in economics and English & creative writing 

Could you give us a brief synopsis of what you'll be doing with your Fulbright? 
I will be an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) at a yet-to-be-determined university in Kosovo. In addition to my teaching duties, I will immerse myself in the culture of Kosovo and start a debate club that serves as English practice and as a means of cultural exchange. I plan to continue my research on drug policy while in the country, examining Kosovo’s use of harm-reduction programs and their impact on reducing opioid-related deaths. 

How do you envision this will influence your life/future career? 
Upon returning to the U.S., I plan to obtain a law degree and work in the legislative field, analyzing and proposing laws that impact public health. Serving as an ETA in Kosovo will equip me with the essential global perspective required for creative policy analysis. I also aim to make connections with faculty members at Kosovar universities for research collaborations in the future.  

What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright? 
Revise until you think your essays are perfect, and then revise some more! My first draft essays looked nothing like the ones I eventually submitted, and they certainly wouldn’t have won any fellowships. Any successful Fulbright application will go through countless revisions (with assistance from advisors that really know their stuff) so be prepared to be flexible with what you want your application to look like. 

Were there experiences at Iowa that inspired you to pursue a Fulbright? 
My time in the UI Department of English taught me the importance of literature and prompted me to apply for a Fulbright to further my understanding of it. Additionally, competing with the University of Iowa mock trial team helped me hone my argumentative writing skills and encouraged me to find ways to expand my cultural horizons before entering law school. 

Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process? 
I would like to thank Jeff DeSimone, Patrick Habecker, Sayre Satterwhite, and Camille Socarras for their invaluable mentorship and encouragement to apply for a wide range of fellowships. I’d also like to thank Ari Natarina, Jonathan Wilcox, Karen Wachsmuth, and all the University of Iowa Fulbright advising team for their assistance in making countless revisions to my essays. Finally, I’d like to thank Kendal Arthur and Nitesh Mathur for their recommendations. My application would not have been successful without the help of any one of these individuals. 




International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement.  IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.