James Madison University

Dr. Erika Metzler Sawin is Awarded Fulbright Grant to India

By: Lori News
Posted: September 17, 2014

PHOTO: Erika Metzler Sawin

What is a “Fulbrighter” and what does it mean to be one?

Fulbrighters are students, foreign students, teachers, professionals and scholars who are “engaged in projects all over the world concerning environmental issues, food security, public health, education and other challenges that require innovation, creativity and knowledge that transcends borders.”

Dr. Erika Metzler Sawin, assistant nursing professor, became one of the first professors from the College of Health and Behavioral Studies to receive a Fulbright grant to teach in India. She first became interested in the Fulbright program in 2008 when she joined her husband on his year long Fulbright program to Croatia, where he taught American cultural studies classes.

The Fulbright application process requires choosing a couple of locations where you’re interested in going.

“There were a couple reasons why I picked India. The main one was because I always wanted to go there and I had a missed opportunity to go there right after I graduated college,” Metzler Sawin said.

Because she was finishing her nursing prerequisites and had other responsibilities she decided not to go.

“Honestly, I’ve regretted it ever since. When I started thinking about Fulbright, I was like India, I have got to go to India,” she said.

She was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award, which is one of the largest Fulbright programs in India that accepts the most U.S. Fulbrighters. 

Metzler Sawin, along with her husband and two children, will begin her six-month trip in January 2015 in Pondicherry, the southeast Indian town where the movie “Life of Pi” was filmed.

Pondicherry houses the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education, where she will be teaching nursing students, public health students and medical students.

Along with teaching, she will also be touring the Urban and Renewal Outreach programs, whose mission is to build up India’s national health care mission.

“It’s really an honor to go,” Metzler Sawin said. “India’s public health system is really good so I’ll be learning as much as I’m teaching.”