National security major wins prestigious Fulbright scholarship
Cole Kochanowski ’22 was recently awarded the highly competitive Fulbright-Hays Scholarship, which will allow him to study Persian in Tajikistan this summer. He looks forward to the opportunities the experience will create for him to excel in the field of national security.
May 5, 2022
Cole Kochanowski ’22 grew up in and around military families, and he saw the impact and importance of service. From an early age, he discovered that helping others was something he was passionate about. It was when he began his tenure as a loader that he developed a keen interest in national security and the many opportunities for field service.
Kochanowski, who will receive his bachelor’s degree in national security this month at Commencement, was also intrigued by the myriad career possibilities in the field. His passion was recently recognized, as he was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship – a scholarship worth over $5,000 – which will allow him to study Persian in Tajikistan, a country of nearly 10 million people in Asia. center this summer.
“When I learned that I had received the Fulbright scholarship, I was incredibly honored,” said Kochanowski, a criminal justice minor. “It was only after I told my family about it that I learned about the prestige of the award. Now, knowing the importance of the scholarship, I am so proud and feel much more confident in my ability to thrive after graduation.
“Advance my career”
A Fulbright program funded by a Congressional appropriation to the U.S. Department of Education, the Fulbright–Hayes Program provides grants to students as well as teachers, professors, institutions and organizations. The funding supports their overseas research and training focused on non-Western languages and foreign studies.
Kochanowski will use his prize to participate 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 provide her with experiences, such as homestays, that will allow her to immerse herself in daily life in Tajikistan.
Additionally, his class time each week will provide him with instruction on topics such as culture, literature, and politics, and he will participate in field trips and cultural activities. He hopes these excursions will support his national security and environmental conservation interests.
“Because volunteer opportunities are also available, I hope to find one at Camp America, a U.S. Embassy public affairs program that offers Tajik children the opportunity to spend a week playing and learning at an American-style summer camp,” Kochanowski said. “I will be able to use the staff and resources of the American Council to find other opportunities in my areas of interest to advance my career.”
“I gained confidence and resilience”
In Tajikistan, Kochanowski will have the contact hours he needs to learn Persian, a language he says is critical to national security in the United States. He is thrilled with the opportunities it will give him to excel in his career.
“When it comes to national security, the emphasis is on studying languages and experiencing abroad because it’s important to gain a global perspective,” he explains. “ERLP allows participants to take part in excursions and cultural activities. Activities outside of the classroom are designed to give participants a better understanding of host country life, culture, and history, and I hope to return to the United States with a better understanding of region and be able to apply it to my career.”
As a Charger, Kochanowski had a myriad of experiences that he says set him up for success. He recently completed his flagship project, which focused on the national security implications of climate change – what he believes could be the greatest threat to US national security.
Brother and vice-president of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Kochanowski is also a drum major for the University marching band. President and founding member of the Residence Hall Association, he is also a Senator General for the Government Association of Undergraduate Students and Vice President for the Class of 2022.
“The University has provided me with many leadership opportunities which have led to my success,” he said. “Through the positions I have held, I have gained a confidence and resilience that I will carry with me throughout my career.”
“He pushed me to be a better student”
It was the relationships he established as a shipper that landed Kochanowski an internship with the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Bureau at FEMA Headquarters, which inspired his passion for studying climate change through the lens of national security. It’s an important issue that he intends to focus on throughout his career.
After spending his summer in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Kochanowski plans to return to the United States and work in intelligence. He also hopes to pursue a career in the foreign service as a US diplomat. Grateful for the leadership, academic and networking opportunities he had at the University, Kochanowski says he especially appreciates the encouragement and support of one particular professor of his.
“I would not have applied to continue my studies abroad and develop my language skills without Dr. Matthew Schmidt,” said Kochanowski. “He pushed me to be a better student, a better writer, and more invested in my future. I never would have considered the American Councils or the Fulbright without Dr. Schmidt.