When I was a student of American and Slavic studies at Innsbruck University in the late 70s, I definitely wanted to spend time abroad - both in the Soviet Union and in the USA. I was fortunate to be given grants/scholarships and was able to study at Moscow State University for a year and explore American higher education thanks to a Fulbright that took me to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. I earned a MA degree in Comparative literature and was absolutely ecstatic about the research opportunities in the US. I fell in love with the open stacks and decided that upon the completion of my Dr. phil in Austria, I would return to America and pursue further studies. This is exactly what happened! I enrolled in a PhD program at Indiana University and when I was offered a tenure-track job in German and Slavic studies at Hamilton College, I accepted the position, which initiated my academic career as a faculty member of literature, which took me to the University of Connecticut and Rice University.
My extraordinarily positive experience as a Fulbrighter and my passion for research and teaching allowed me to spend several decades in American higher education, contribute to the educational dialogue between the USA and the German-speaking countries, highlight the importance of Austrian history and culture in German Studies circles, and enjoy a very rewarding professional life. There is no doubt in my mind that my Fulbright experience was critical in shaping my professional development!
Dr. Maria-Regina Kecht was an Austrian Fulbright Student of linguistics to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1978–79. Photo courtesy of Dr. Maria-Regina Kecht.