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Three from Class of 2014 to Spend Year in Germany Through CBYX


By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: June 6, 2014

Boston College 2014 graduates Elma Meskovic, Jack Lee Hill and Terese Rutkowski have been accepted for the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX), a federally funded fellowship to study and work in Germany.

[A fourth, Catherine Niech, also was offered the fellowship but at press time was considering other post-graduate opportunities.]

The CBYX program is sponsored in the United States by the Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. CBYX offers 75 American and 75 German young professionals the opportunity to spend one year in each other’s countries, studying, interning, and living with hosts on a cultural immersion program.

Among other criteria, CBYX applicants must exhibit clear career goals and some relevant experience – work, internship or volunteer – in their career field. Participants are expected to act as "young ambassadors" of the US in Germany, and to represent the diversity of the US.

“To get four of the 75 fellowships is quite an accomplishment,” said Germans Studies Department Administrative Assistant Agnes Farkas, who oversees BC’s participation in CBYX. “CBYX is not intended as a way to ‘find yourself.’ It is a competitive program, and places a strong importance on candidates’ career goals.

“This is the fourth year that BC has participated in CBYX, and we’re very pleased that BC students are showing themselves to be such strong candidates.”

For Elma Meskovic, who majored in political science and minored in German and environmental studies at BC, the CBYX fellowship represents a homecoming of sorts: She and her family were forced to flee their native Bosnia-Herzegovina during the conflict of 1992-95 and lived in Germany for an interval before moving to Revere, Mass., when Meskovic was seven.

“I made it a goal of mine to travel and live in Germany after college, so there was already a desire to visit the place of my early childhood memories,” she said. “As I grew older, I became more and more passionate about nature and learning how to deal with the vast environmental problems currently facing us. I have always believed Germany to be the place where my love of nature started.”

Meskovic sees environmental policy as a potential career path, drawing on her environmental studies and political science background. Taking part in CBYX, she believes, can help make that goal a realistic one.

“Germany’s environmental practices and initiatives are regarded as models in many parts of the world, so going there after college to learn more about them became an obvious dream of mine. After speaking with several former CBYX participants, I knew that this program was something I would want to be part of. With a two-month language course, a semester at a German university, and an internship, the program offers me not only a chance to improve my German, but to also learn the necessary terms used when discussing the environment and the opportunity to participate in an internship in a relevant field.”

Like Meskovic, Rutkowski pursued minors in German Studies and environmental studies during her undergraduate years at BC, while majoring in economics. Germany’s response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan served to strengthen those interests, she said.
“Germany made a commitment to phase out nuclear power and replace it with renewable energy sources,” said Rutkowski, a La Cañada, Calif., native. “I wanted to be in Germany to better understand how a developed, Western country was transitioning to renewable energy and how the change affected their politics, economy and society. The CBYX fellowship will allow me to study such changes while integrated in both German university and work life.”

Rutkowski, who following her year in CBYX plans to continue studying applied economics and policy or work in environmental consulting, foresees her career as involving work on issues of climate change, especially related to health and education.

“I hope that a better understanding of the energy transition in Germany will prepare me for helping the US make the same transition.”
Hill, from Norman, Okla., participated in the USA-Interns Program through the German Studies Department last summer, working in business development for the software technology firm Titan Commerce. He also served as student coordinator for the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy Junior Fellows Program.