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Gilbert’s Animated Journey Leads to Fulbright Scholarship

April 12, 2024
Megan Gilbert

Senior Megan Gilbert likens the experience at The College of Idaho with Scooby Doo or Donald Duck.

“It’s nice living your life like a cartoon-show character – the next episode will be another wacky adventure,” said Gilbert with a smile. “When you embrace that mindset, a lot of cool things can end up happening.”

The next wacky adventure for Gilbert, who uses they/them pronouns, will be year-long trip to Taiwan as a Fulbright Scholar after graduating in May with a double in history and political economy. Gilbert is just the third College of Idaho student to be awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, which dates back to 1946, when President Harry Truman signed the Fulbright Act for the exchange of teachers, students, professors, and research scholars between the United States and participating countries. Armando Guerrero ‘21 and Kathleen Von Bargen ‘65 are the two previous Fulbright Scholars.

Gilbert’s Fulbright experience in Taiwan will be their second trip to the small island off the coast of China. Gilbert went for two weeks last spring, a fulfillment of an overseas program from Gilbert’s time at Boise’s Renaissance High School which was initially postponed due to the early Chinese outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. Gilbert traveled to Vietnam with professors Rob Dayley and Jeff Snyder-Reinke this past January and studied abroad in Mexico with retired professor Mee-Ae Kim as well. Gilbert was also a member of the College’s first Summer Bridge teaching cohort in Hailey, Idaho, a summer program which combined education with traditional summer-camp experiences for at-risk students who fell behind during online education due to the pandemic.

“The Fulbright made a lot of sense because I’ve worked with kids before,” Gilbert explained. “And this is an opportunity to help master my (Mandarin) language abilities while doing something I’ve done before.”

Gilbert chose to go to Taiwan but will not learn their specific location or assignment until arriving in the country in early August. Once there, they’ll spend the year teaching English, paired with a Taiwanese teacher who has already been teaching the students.

“Being awarded a Fulbright is no small feat. Some of the best college students in the nation apply for one, but the vast majority are turned down. It’s a testament to Megan’s qualifications that they were able to rise to the top in such a crowded and capable field,” said Snyder-Reinke, the College’s Fulbright Scholarship advisor. “A Fulbright ETA (English Teaching Assistant) isn’t an award that just drops out of the sky. Megan spent a considerable amount of time preparing their application and crafting their essay in order to stand out from the crowd.”

Gilbert echoed that sentiment, saying their essay was intensely reviewed by several members of the College’s faculty.

“My essays had been peer-reviewed about 12 times,” Gilbert said. “Even professors I had never had a class with, like Sean Blackwell and Kyle Cheesewright, were happy to review my essays.”

Gilbert will have a brief, two-month break between Commencement and the journey to Taiwan. The break comes on the heels of their time at the College which included multiple study-abroad experiences, the Summer Bridge experience, an internship with the City of Boise’s mayor’s office, four years as a Heritage Scholar, four years of student government, working as a student ambassador and volunteering to lead the College’s Public Sphere and History Society clubs, all while completing a double-major. After completing their Fulbright Scholarship commitment, Gilbert plans to pursue a graduate degree. It’s part of the wacky cartoon-show mindset.

“Do the random thing,” Gilbert advised. “Send in the random application. It can be one of the more formative moments of your life.”

The College of Idaho has a 133-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit