Strategic Priorities: How the Fulbright JFDP Program Made Me a Stronger Professor
Once I received the nomination email informing me I had been nominated for the Junior Faculty Development Program at Ohio University, I felt grateful, thankful, and proud. However, I also felt energetic, anxious, and tense. I asked myself what should be my strategic priorities during this prestigious program? How can I gain skills that will best benefit my country, my home institution, my future students, and myself? With this in mind, I set strategic priorities to gain the most out of this reputable program to bring novel approaches to my curriculum and teaching methods, such as using technology and multimedia in the learning and development of a blended Chemistry course, which is not common in Egypt. The Fulbright Junior Faculty Development Program for Egypt Public Health, Research, and Pedagogy Program for Egyptian Fulbright Scholars provided intensive faculty development in research methods, curriculum development, pedagogy, academic leadership, US culture, and US public health.
I arrived in the United States in June 2019 and was welcomed by my American colleagues. I felt very comfortable — as if I was home. This warm welcome encouraged me to focus on performing very well during this intensive program.
My hard work and dedication to the program paid off as I completed the program with a secondary data analysis project and a blended course plan. Data analysis and online course development were new to me, and this required extra work. Despite the challenges, I made noticeable progress in the development of these and other skills that I learned about at Ohio University. During my time I was an active participant in two service-learning programs — one with Passion Works Studio and the other with United Campus Ministries. Through these, I helped plan and present activities at Factory Street and Vinton County High School. These community activities are vital to the Fulbright Program as they promote mutual understanding of culture across the United States and Egypt.
The Fulbright Program has re-shaped my future as a strong faculty member and researcher. Once I returned from the United States, I concluded my Ph.D. in Chemistry from The American University in Cairo, in January 2020. I have been working as an adjunct faculty member in the Chemistry Department there. I implemented what I learned during the Fulbright JFDP program: to break down the traditional walls of teaching and to make chemistry fun to learn. I adopted active learning techniques that increase students’ inspiration, interest, and focus. Also, I succeeded in designing highly interactive online courses during the COVID-19 crisis. The impact of the Fulbright JFDP was reflected in the student evaluations and satisfaction, where I achieved high scores, despite the many challenges we faced during remote learning. I am so grateful for the skills I learned during this program in the United States that has made me a stronger teacher during COVID-19.
This program also developed my research skills and abilities. I published five papers in high impact, quartile-1 international peer-reviewed journals during 2020 as a part of my research fellowship position at AUC. My work in developing novel anticancer drug formulations with high efficiencies and low side effects has also been highlighted on AUC pages.
I am very grateful to the Fulbright Commission in Egypt, AMIDEAST, and the U.S. Department of State for giving me this tremendous opportunity that highly re-shaped my academic career.
It is my honor and privilege to be a Fulbright Alumni.
Sherif is a Fulbright alumnus from Egypt. He was part of the Junior Faculty Development Program at Ohio University.
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