July 22, 2005

VUSM student lands Fulbright Scholarship

Featured Image

Frank Lee

VUSM student lands Fulbright Scholarship

Frank Lee, rising third-year Vanderbilt University School of Medicine student, recently received a Fulbright scholarship to study abroad in Madrid, Spain. The Fulbright program is a federally funded effort to foster mutual understanding between people in the United States and other countries.

Lee became interested in studying abroad as a way to learn Spanish because, he says, “The Latin culture is becoming more and more important in this country and here in Nashville.”

Last summer, Lee visited Guatemala to “broaden his horizons,” and knowing absolutely no Spanish. The trip began with Lee using hand signals to catch a bus for a five-hour ride to the small village at which he was staying.

On the trip he noticed that most people spoke with a slightly different dialect. In Spain, the dialect is distinctly different from most forms of South American Spanish, all of which vary on a local level as well.

“One of the things I wanted to do was to sort of learn Spanish in a global way,” Lee said. “And what better way than to go to the country of origin.”

In Madrid, Lee will be tutoring high school students in English, serving as a teaching assistant while undertaking an independent research project studying immigrant health care. Recently, Spain has seen a tremendous increase of both legal and illegal immigrants from Africa and South America, and the country has passed several questionable immigration laws to handle the resulting issues.

“These reasons and my desire to study Spanish helped me choose Spain as the right country to study the interaction between the health care system and immigration,” said Lee.

He leaves for Madrid in late July. When he returns next June, Lee will begin his rotations for his third year of medical school. He plans to use this experience to pursue a career in international health.

More than 255,000 people, 96,400 from the United States and 158,600 from other countries, have participated in the Fulbright program, which awards approximately 4,500 new grants annually, with 1,100 going to students. The program operates in 140 countries, and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The scholarship provides a monthly stipend for housing, books, travel and even tuition expenses should Lee decide to take courses while in Spain.