2011 Grad Sees the Forest and the Trees on Fulbright

Many students land nicknames while at Ursinus that last for the rest of their lives. Some stem from monikers picked up on the playing fields, while others come from the freshman dorms or Greek Life. But 2011 graduate Martina Dzuna owes her sobriquet, Wunderkind, to the classroom.

An Environmental Studies and German double major while at Ursinus, she earned the name while studying at the Tübingen Sprachinstitut during a 2008 semester abroad in Germany. Her instructor pinned it on her after she passed the Zertifikat Deutsch exam at the level required for German citizenship. Previously, Dzuna had only one year of first level German at Ursinus, and one language course in Germany. “Martina has quite a linguistic knack for rapidly picking up idiom and diction in foreign languages,” explains Dr. Robin Clouser, Professor of German Language and Literature. “She is simply an outstanding student in every possible way.”  

In December she was selected to participate in a competitive Fulbright internship that allows her to stay an extra three months in Germany where she’s studying in the Black Forest region near Freiburg.

“Freiburg and the Black Forest are just awesome,” Dzuna reports via email. “I’m absolutely in love with the city and the surrounding area.”

Martina Dzuna in Triberg

Martina Dzuna, 2011

“The interdisciplinary approach that Environmental Studies offers was perfect for me,” Dzuna said. “It tends to be a more complete way of approaching complex problems such as climate change or environmental degradation.”

When Dzuna submitted her Fulbright proposal as a senior, she received an invitation from both the University of Frieburg as well as the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of the Sciences. The prestigious Fulbright program sponsors just 1,100 awards to U.S. students annually.

“The fact that she had support from two research institutes is super impressive,” says Environmental Studies Professor Patrick Hurley, who guided her through the Fulbright application process. “She conducted the entire interview process in German, despite the fact that her interviewers could speak English.”

When her Fulbright experience concludes, Dzuna could continue on with graduate school back home or continue to study in Europe. (In addition to German, she is also fluent in Slovak).

“Dzuna has a love of learning and is driven, motivated and committed,” says Hurley. “The speed in which she learns things is amazing. She’ll be exceptional in whatever she chooses for her future.” 

Whatever she decides to do, Dzuna is sure to do it wunderfully. — By Ellen Labrecque 1995