BGSU has had only one student Fulbright award winner previously. But with three recipients heading overseas soon, “this year is the jackpot!” exclaimed Diane Regan, director of faculty/staff immigration services and Fulbright Program advisor.
David Wegehaupt of Glendale, Ariz., who graduated May 5 with a bachelor’s degree in music performance and a minor in recording technology, will be studying saxophone at the Conservatoire National de Musique de Région Boulogne-Billancourt in Paris. Meaghan Geraghty of Austinburg, Ohio, who graduated with a double major in English and political science, will be going to Hong Kong to teach English. And Paul Lajeunesse, a 2006 graduate of the School of Art now living in St. Louis, will study landscape painting in Iceland.
Wegehaupt came to BGSU to study with Dr. John Sampen, Distinguished Research/Artist Professor. With his Fulbright Full Scholarship in Paris, he will study with master teacher Jean-Michel Goury. Wegehaupt already has fairly extensive experience performing overseas, and returned from a trip to Greece, where he played with his group, the Cosmos Saxophone Quartet, just in time for graduation.
“Last November, I went to Dinant, Belgium, for two weeks and participated in one of the biggest saxophone competitions in the world, the International Adolphe Sax Competition, and I was the only American to advance to the semifinal round,” Wegehaupt said. He counts this and receiving the Fulbright award as his two greatest accomplishments.
To study in Paris is especially meaningful for a saxophonist, he said, because that is where the saxophone was invented and where the first conservatory class in saxophone was held, in the early 1900s. It is also an important center for contemporary art music, which is what Wegehaupt is particularly interested in.
“Twentieth- and 21st-century contemporary music is what I am most involved in,” he said. “I want to keep moving music forward. Changing, evolving and progressing is what is most important to me.”
"David is a tremendous talent—a 4.0 student who learns so quickly and loves music and the arts,” Sampen said. “He has been planning and preparing for this Fulbright opportunity for over two years. In our saxophone lessons we have frequently discussed his interest and need to study in France. As a result, he has undertaken the appropriate preparatory steps in learning French, consulting with other Fulbright winners, undertaking preliminary trips abroad, contacting major world-class saxophonists and preparing professional-quality audition solos and recordings.”
An important part of the preparation involved writing two essays. Wegehaupt said Regan was a “really great editor of my essays. We must have gone through 20 drafts of each essay, and she helped me write the best essays I could write.”
Once in Paris, in addition to his classes with Goury, he said he is most looking forward to having virtually uninterrupted practice time. “I plan to spend about eight hours a day playing and practicing,” he said. As a student at BGSU, he was pressed to get in four hours a day when combined with school and his other activities, which included being a radio announcer and music director for WBGU-FM and a recording engineer. “David is frequently requested for producing recitals and recordings,” Sampen said. This summer, in preparation for going to Paris, he plans to study French, give saxophone lessons and spend as much time as possible practicing. “I want to be playing my best when I get there,” he said.
"What I particularly enjoy about David is his terrific energy and his consuming interest in playing the saxophone,” Sampen added. “He has wonderful musical taste (particularly in new music) and a natural affinity for expressing himself through the medium of sound.”
Geraghty got the call telling her she had been accepted for the Fulbright while she was at work. “I found out in the stacks of the BGSU library,” she said, laughing. She will have an English Teaching Assistantship at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, a public university-level institution dedicated to the preparation and professional development of teachers. Her 11-month appointment will run from Aug. 2 through June 2008 and is renewable, “which Fulbrights rarely are,” Regan said. The school is on the island of Tai Po, north of Hong Kong island, and is “a little less industrialized and very beautiful,” Geraghty said.
The Hong Kong program is a first for the Fulbright system and comprises 15 new graduates from across the United States. “What’s really nice about it is that because it’s the first time they’re doing it in Hong Kong and we’re going as a group, we’ll also be like ambassadors. They’ve planned a number of trips for us and visits to elementary schools and other events,” she said. One trip will take the group to South China, she added.
In Hong Kong, Geraghty will spend about 20 hours a week teaching English, along with organizing language-related, cross-cultural student activities and participating in or helping establish organizations. She will also be taking classes in Cantonese, English Foreign Language teaching methods and the history of Hong Kong/China relations, which is “something I really want to get my hands on,” she said.
The middle child of eight (four of whom attended or are enrolled at BGSU) from a small, rural community, Geraghty became engaged with the idea of going abroad after graduation during a BGSU trip to Mexico as part of her Spanish class. “That was the scariest thing, to think of going off the beaten path of going straight to law school,” she said. Regan helped her narrow her ideas and choose a direction. “She was essential in the process,” Geraghty said. “She was helpful, timely and flexible, and absolutely dedicated. You couldn’t ask for a better advisor.”
As a former writer for the BG News, Geraghty said she hopes to send back postings from Hong Kong about her experiences in the hope that other students will be inspired and encouraged to pursue their interests abroad.
“I’m honored and looking forward to the experience and would like to bring back what I’ve learned to the States,” she said. “And I hope other BGSU students will take the opportunity to do the same.”
A painter, Paul Lajeunesse will spend the next year studying the light and unique landscape of Iceland, stationed in Reykjavik. He anticipates a time of great artistic growth. Working in an environment so different from what he is used to will cause him to take new approaches to both seeing and painting, he says, and the unusual elements of Iceland—light, air, topography—will provide new compositional challenges.
Studying with painter Patrick Betaudier during his annual summer workshops at BGSU “was an enormous influence on my study of light in painting,” he said.
Lajeunesse began working on his Fulbright application as a senior but was not satisfied with the result and decided to continue to pursue it after graduation. “Alumni are able to use the resources of their home institutions as they go through the process,” Regan said, “and Paul did that.” He will leave for Iceland in September and stay through May 2008.
Along with creating a body of landscape painting, Lajeunesse “would like to turn this experience into a serious commitment to the promotion of international education,” he said. He hopes to mount an exhibit of his work at BGSU when he returns to help raise awareness of the student Fulbright program and inspire others to get involved.