Fulbright Program participants do amazing things: 54 went on to win the Nobel Prize; 33 have served as heads of state or government.
Named for former U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, the program is considered by many the nation’s flagship international educational exchange program. It’s helped 360,000 participants — from the U.S. and more than 160 participating countries — build understanding among diverse cultures.
In honor of the program’s 70th anniversary, here is a sampling of Fulbright alumni who went on to lead their countries:
The current president of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović was a Fulbright scholar from 2002 to 2003. She is the first woman president of Croatia and the first woman to be appointed assistant secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera
Known for helping to write a Central American peace plan that won then-president of Costa Rica Oscar Arias Sánchez the Nobel Peace Prize, Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera has been president of Costa Rica since 2014. He was both a Fulbright Foreign Student (1978) and a Fulbright Scholar in Residence (1983).
The current president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani was a 1985 Fulbright-Hays scholar. Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines named him one of the world’s top 100 intellectuals.
The first female prime minister of the Slovak Republic, from 2010 to 2012, Iveta Radičová also served as minister of labor and minister of defense. She participated in the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program in 1999.
The former prime minister of Haiti and the youngest prime minister under the country’s current constitution, Garry Conille participated in the Fulbright Program in 1998.
The first female prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, from 2010 to 2015, Kamla Persad-Bissessar was a 1983 Fulbrighter.
Follow in their footsteps. Apply for a Fulbright scholarship or another exchange program.
This is adapted from an article by Kourtni Gonzalez.