New York, New York : American Degree Program Director Receives Prestigious US Fellowship

Prema Ponnudurai, the Program Director of American Degree Program at Taylor’s University, received a fully-funded Fellowship to spend 6 weeks in the USA.

Prema Ponnudurai (4th front row from left) with the other SUSI Fellowship recipients in the USA

The Study of US Institutes (SUSI) is a competitive fellowship programme offered by the US State Department, and fully funded under the Fulbright Commission. Only 18-scholars and academics from around the world were selected for this prestigious 6-week programme in 2017, and Ms Prema Ponnudurai,  Program Director of the American Degree Program (ADP) at Taylor’s University, was the only academic selected from Malaysia. As Prema explained about the programme, “The focus is to examine the ethnic, racial, economic, political, and religious contexts in which various cultures have manifested themselves in U.S. society, while focusing on the ways in which these cultures have influenced social movements and American identity throughout U.S. history”. During the course of this fellowship, she was attached to the University of New York (NYU). The fellowship allowed her to conduct and present some research and experience seminars and lectures by eminent academics, political activist, NGO leaders and celebrities. These interactions helped inform her understanding of American history, politics, media, pop culture and migration - which has all helped to shape the USA into the complex country it is today. During the course of the fellowship, she also got to visit other universities, such as Harvard University in Boston, in order to better understand of its establishment and its leading role in developing education in the USA. She also travelled to New Mexico, where she experienced the lives of Native American and saw their reserves and pueblos. Finally, she travelled to Washington DC, where she was able to engage with the US State Department Educational Bureau, and held discussions with the team of former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s on aspects of the American political systems.  Assoc. Professor Anindita Dasgupta, Head of School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Taylor’s University said that “We are proud of Prema’s accomplishment, and will continue to support academics in exchange programmes to improve our practices and further develop relations with global scholars”. While ADP staff have spent time in US universities before, Prema is the first person to have received such a fellowship. Reflecting on the experience, Prema commented that the “learning never stops at whatever position or age you are. We need to keep enhancing our experiences as academics through various means for the betterment of ourselves and our students”. To find out more about the ADP program at Taylor’s University click here - (Global Matters 2017)