SSU given prestigious designation for its participation in the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program

October 28, 2021
Two SSU students walking and laughing together

By Nate Galvan |

(Rohnert Park, CA) — In recognition of the Fulbright Program’s strong partnership with Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI), the U.S. State Department has named SSU a Fulbright HSI Leader. SSU is one of only 35 HSI’s out of the nearly 600 in the U.S. to receive the award in its inaugural year of designation and one of nine California State Universities.

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed legislation into law to establish the Fulbright Program, created to increase the mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. On its 75th anniversary, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program operates in 160 countries and has produced well over a hundred Nobel Peace Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners, helping more than 400,000 students, scholars, and teachers conduct research studies around the world. 

Fulbright HSI Leader badge

According to the program, SSU has demonstrated meaningful engagement with Fulbright exchange participants during the 2019-2021 academic years and has promoted the program’s opportunities on campus. The collaboration is evident in SSU currently hosting two Fulbright students from other countries. SSU faculty member Laura Watt also received a Fulbright grant to conduct research in Iceland last year.

Third-year exchange student and English major Gamze Can is studying at SSU this year. She’s from Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg, a university in Breisgau, Germany, with hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher. Can said she chose to come to SSU to take advantage of the campus’s smaller size to participate in class more and meet new people. “It also had the best on-campus housing,” she added.

“I wanted to be on a small campus with small classes, and SSU was the best fit for me,” Can said. “I wanted to be a part of Fulbright, especially to broaden my horizons and learn about new people from all over the world. I’m really looking forward to telling other participants about my experiences abroad.”

According to the Fulbright organization, the Fulbright HSI Leader designations are part of the U.S. State Department’s longstanding commitment to building diversity and inclusion within the Fulbright Program and all the Bureau’s international exchange programs. The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced the Fulbright HSI Leaders at the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities annual conference on Wednesday, October 27.

Dr. Hope Ortiz, the Global Engagement Coordinator at SSU, notes that the Fulbright program provides amazing, affordable opportunities for students and scholars to go overseas. “The Global Engagement Office has been working with Academic Affairs and the Center for Teaching & Educational Technology to expand SSU’s engagement in the various Fulbright programs, including the opportunity to bring visiting scholars to SSU. We also hope to support more SSU graduating students who are interested in teaching, researching, or pursuing a master’s degree abroad through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program,” says Dr. Ortiz.

A dedicated 75th-anniversary website showcases Fulbright alumni, partner countries, and anniversary events. For further information about the Fulbright Program or the U.S. Department of State, please visit or contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Press Office by e-mail

Media Contact

Julia Gonzalez