Travis Leggett always had his hopes riding on a chance to study in Austria. As a German and history graduate at St. Ambrose University, it was his dream to visit there.
Leggett, of Bettendorf, got his wish when the Fulbright Institute of International Education awarded him with a scholarship to study abroad for one year at the University of Vienna in Austria.
“Some of my studies will include world history and European studies,” he said. “Throughout this program, I will also teach English at an Austrian high school for 12 hours a week. It will help pay my bills and expenses.”
Although his scholarship is only for one year, Leggett will have the chance to extend it to two years and get to stay and study longer, perhaps completing a program and receiving another degree.
“This scholarship is really a good opportunity for me to get to Europe, where eventually I want to live,” he said. “I would like to continue on there even when my scholarship time is up.”
Leggett will depart in mid-September. Classes at the university begin in October. Jon Stauff, director of study abroad at St. Ambrose, is proud of Leggett’s award.
“Travis’ selection is a tremendous achievement for him and a great honor for St. Ambrose,” Stauff said. “The Fulbright program has been based on the exchange of peoples, cultures and ideas between the United States and other countries, and Travis will have the opportunity to share his knowledge of U.S. culture with his Austrian hosts while acquiring knowledge about Europe and Austria in his studies at the University of Vienna.”
Leggett credits his success in getting into the program with the help of Stauff and Barbara Pitz, the Fulbright program director at St. Ambrose.
“John and Barbara both advised me and introduced me to the scholarship and were a large encouragement into my application process,” Leggett said.
The application process is long and arduous, he said.
“There are about 20 pages of a general application with basic facts and personal information. You have to write a two-page essay explaining your study goals and why the program is important to you. You have to write another one-page essay about yourself and how you relate to your program of choice,” he said.
Committee meetings and interviews in both English and German followed, Leggett said, and he met with the St. Ambrose faculty to discuss his goals before gaining approval from the university and the program.
Although the wait seemed forever, Leggett was excited when he received word of his achievement.
“My family is very proud and knew that I wanted more from my education by going to Europe,” he said. “It’s a really big deal to receive a national scholarship; I’m the third from St. Ambrose to receive this honor.”
His parents are Lorrie Long of Bettendorf and Jim Leggett Jr., Evansville, Wis.
Hard work is nothing new to Leggett. He earned his way through college by working about 30 hours a week, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., as a custodian at Pleasant Valley High School while carrying a full load of credits at St. Ambrose.
Aside from pursuing his dream of an education in Austria, the scholarship has sentimental value in Leggett’s life.
“I get to be close to my girlfriend,” he said. “She lives in Croatia, and it’s only a few hours away. I can’t wait to be near her again.”
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about the fulbright
The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and began in 1946 after being introduced in 1945 by Sen. J. William Fulbright.
The purpose was to help the U.S. government understand and exchange ideas between U.S. citizens and people of other countries. According to the Fulbright Web site, 6,000 grants were awarded in 2004 for more than $250 million. The awards go to students, teachers, scholars and professionals.