Graduate Student Receives Fulbright Grant to Conduct Nursing History Research in Germany
Jennifer montgomery, phd candidate
Majors: european history
Article Written By: Brendan Zarkower '17
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a nationally competitive, fully funded fellowship that provides recent graduates and graduate students the opportunity to travel abroad to a foreign country to study, conduct research or teach English as a foreign language. Jennifer Montgomery, a PhD candidate in modern European history at Binghamton University, was awarded a Fulbright Student Grant and is currently conducting research in Germany.
Jennifer is originally from the small city of Portland, Tennessee. She has been studying Germany and German culture since 2009 as an undergraduate at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, where she received a B.A. in history and English. At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, she received an M.A. in Modern European History before joining Binghamton University in 2013 to further pursue her research, which examines nurses in Germany during the First World War.
The first time Jennifer went to Germany, she had no idea that she would become so interested in the country’s history. She took a class as an undergraduate that afforded her the opportunity to travel to France, Germany and Austria to study the Holocaust. It was in Germany that Jennifer developed a desire to learn the language, and she has been to the country four times since.
It is vital for her to conduct her research in Germany, as much of the information she needs is not accessible in the United States. While on the Fulbright, she will be spending time in Berlin, Frankfurt and Stuttgart in order to access the wide variety of sources her studies require.
“My research looks at the connections German nurses had with nurses from other countries, such as the United States, Britain, Finland, Sweden, and others, exploring what types of relationships they had and how they influenced one another,” Jennifer said.
Her time in Germany will largely be spent tracking down letters between nurses from Germany and other countries. She is also examining nursing journals from the First World War in order to find out more about the cross-pollinating influences nurses had on each other during this time period, when information was more likely to be exchanged on a person to person basis.
Naturally, Jennifer is also using her time in Germany to experience parts of German culture she had not been exposed to prior to her trip.
“My favorite experience so far, and one that I had been looking forward to the most, was getting to visit the Christmas markets,” Jennifer said. “In all of my previous trips to Germany, I have only been here during the summer, so I had never been able to visit one.”
She says that the markets in Berlin are all unique, but have common features such as beautiful lights and delicious food for sale.
Amidst all of her work, Jennifer also finds time to volunteer as an English teacher in Berlin and has found the experience rewarding on a personal level.
“I teach an adult intermediate English class at a local church once a week as a volunteer, and the people in the class have diverse backgrounds, including German, Turkish, Finnish, and others,” Jennifer said. “In just this small group, I am able to see and experience the diverseness of Berlin.”
Jennifer encourages her fellow Binghamton students and alumni to consider applying for a Fulbright.
She suggests that research applicants fully develop their proposed projects before applying, so that they can explain on the application how Fulbright will help them achieve their goals. Specifically, she says Fulbright places great importance on how your experience will allow you to interact with the local community and embrace the country’s culture.