by Randall Gee

Nicholas Freeman '12, pictured above, is the latest Pacifican to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. He will teach in Russia after he graduates this year.

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Pacifican is Awarded Prestigious Fulbright Fellowship

Nicholas Freeman will teach in Russia next year
by Patrick GiblinApr 11, 2012

Editors Note: Since this story was posted, a second student was awarded a Fulbright. Julia Sasha Custer, a Russian major and speech language pathology minor  in the College of the Pacific was notified that she will receive an award. A third student, Karelli Cabrall was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in mid May to teach English in Venezuela in the fall.

On Tuesday, Nicholas Freeman '12, a student in the School of International Studies, said that his patience was about "to pop." After waiting for nearly three months after being interviewed for a Fulbright award, he said he was ready to move on.

The Fulbright, which is issued by the United States Department of State, goes to students who have an interest in either teaching or researching overseas. In Freeman's case, language proficiency was also required.  Freeman said that while everyone around him told him he would get it, and even though he is fluent in Russian and Spanish, he said he never "bought the hype about my skills."

"It was a coin toss, and you have to prepare for the odds to be against you," Freeman said.

That all changed with an email Wednesday afternoon from the State Department. He was granted a Fulbright to teach English-language classes in Russia. The scholarship will pay for his travel expenses, room and board while he's in the country.

"In that one moment it took me to open the email, I knew what I would be doing for the next 10 months," Freeman said, adding that the reality of the announcement was still sinking in.

"I never thought that I would qualify for something like this, and it really was the professors at Pacific who encouraged me to take language to another level and find new ways to apply and challenge myself, especially Professor Elena Savelieva-Thompson."

Savelieva-Thompson teaches Russian studies and language at Pacific and is an affiliated faculty member with the School of International Studies. Freeman, 23, is a double major and will earn bachelor's degrees in Russian studies and in international affairs and commerce.

Freeman said besides teaching English in Russia, he also plans to play volleyball in Russia. He played on Pacific's men's team for two years.

"Playing volleyball will be a great way to connect with people and also challenge my language skills," he said.

Freeman is one of several Pacificans in the past few years who have earned Fulbrights or other top scholarships. Last year, two students and two faculty members were awarded Fulbrights. In 2010, one student earned a Fulbright and  two students earned Boren awards, which are awarded by the Department of Defense.

"We are so excited for Nicholas and are so proud that another Fulbright scholar is coming from Pacific this year," said Cynthia WagnerWeick, dean of the School of International Studies. "In the past few years, we have seen more Pacificans receive these awards, thanks to the hard work of our students, faculty and especially Dr. Susan Weiner, Pacific's fellowship advisor, who is doing a fantastic job of making the community aware of what is available, encouraging students to apply, and coaching them throughout the process.

For more information about the Fulbright, visit For more information about the School of International Studies, visit