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Cary Fontana ’10 receives Fulbright EU Fellowship

|||Cary Fontana

Last updated May 25, 2016

By Tina Underwood

Cary Fontana, a 2010 Furman University political science and economics graduate, has won a Fulbright-Schuman grant from the U.S. State Department. Also known as the European Union (EU) Fulbright, the honor is awarded to only four applicants each year.

Cary Fontana, Class of 2010

Cary Fontana, Class of 2010

The Fulbright-Schuman Program is administered by the Commission for Educational Exchange between the United States and Belgium. It is jointly financed by the U.S. State Department and the Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. The program funds graduate and post-graduate study, research, and lecture proposals in the field of US-EU relations, EU policy, or EU institutions for interested American and EU citizens.

A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon, Fontana will travel to Scotland and Spain where he will investigate the impact of the EU on regionalist party electoral success.

Fontana explains regionalist parties are political parties that operate within a specific geographic area, and whose primary policy focus is gaining greater political autonomy for their region.

Says Fontana, “Support for regionalist parties has grown tremendously over the previous 35 years in tandem with the growth of the European Union.  My research investigates the possible relationship further. My goal is to examine the possible influence of EU politics on regionalist parties in multiple countries, and luckily, the Fulbright-Schuman grant requires fellows to conduct research in at least two EU countries.”

From Sept. 2016-Jan. 2017 Fontana will live in Edinburgh, Scotland, and then he will travel to Barcelona, Catalonia where he will live until June 2017. His project involves interviewing members of various regional parties in Scotland and Catalonia. Fontana will also conduct archival research to analyze historical party documents.

Fontana credits his Ph.D. candidacy at the University of Oregon and the Fulbright honor to his tenure at Furman. “My experience in the [political science] department laid the foundation for the Fulbright, and for that I am grateful,” he says.

Fontana traveled widely while at Furman and was involved in a number of curricular and extracurricular activities. He was selected to be part of Furman’s delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum held in Singapore 2009. For APEC’s business, trade and economic forum, he was selected as one of only four American Youth Representatives.

In 2008, he served as an intern at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium where he worked for Portuguese member Duarte Freitas. Fontana was chosen as one of two Furman students to attend Youth Atlantic Treaty Association (2007, Ottawa, Canada), which aims to connect youth interested in trans-Atlantic political relations and promote cooperation among the youth of NATO member countries. He also interned at the United States Embassy in Ottawa.

Fontana was a member of political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha and overall academic honor society Phi Eta Sigma. He served on Furman’s Student Judicial and Arbitration Board, and as a Furman Admissions Ambassador. He was part of a select group of students chosen for the Riley Institute’s Advance Team, and the Shucker Leadership Institute.

Community-minded, Fontana volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and Junior Achievement during his time at Furman.

Furman political science professor Brent Nelson describes Fontana as a “bright, curious and adventurous” political science major who gained early exposure to the EU by being among the first students to intern at the European Parliament as part of Furman’s Brussels Internship Program. Following graduation in 2010, Fontana served nearly two years in Mali as a Peace Corps volunteer before being evacuated from the region during the 2012 military coup.

For further information, contact the Furman News and Information office at (864) 294-3107.


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