Lawrenceville student is GGC’s first Fulbright Scholar

Seijin Tranberg, who will graduate magna cum laude from Georgia Gwinnett College tomorrow, is the college’s first Fulbright Scholar. Through the program, he will spend a year in South Korea before returning home to pursue a graduate degree.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers opportunities for recent graduates, graduate students, developing professionals and artists to conduct career-launching study and research abroad. Established in 1946, the program aims to increase understanding between peoples of the United States and other countries through the exchange of persons, knowledge and skills.

Tranberg majored in political science with a concentration in international relations. An active student leader, he was elected twice to serve as president of the GGC Student Government Association. 

“This isn’t just the end of college for me, but the beginning of the rest of my life,” said Tranberg, who acknowledged the support, mentorship and encouragement he received from family, friends, faculty and staff. “One of coolest things is knowing I'm only the first of many more Fulbright Scholars to come from GGC because other students will have access to the same professionals, resources and opportunities.”

The application process for the Fulbright Program took about two months, followed by almost four more months of waiting to hear if Tranberg had been successful.

That success was not always in the picture. Tranberg said he graduated from high school uninspired and with a 2.9 GPA. He did mission work for two years, and came home to enroll at GGC, determined to do his best.

“I don't come from an affluent family, but I learned to find purpose in everything that I do, as well as committing to work hard to make dreams a reality,” Tranberg said. “Like many students, I had my eyes set on transferring to a better known school. But I developed a love for GGC and the commitment to students I saw in its professors and staff. I wanted to make the college and community I had come to love proud, and I figured being a successful student on the international level might just do the trick. I knew that with the relationships I had built with my mentors and professors, it was possible, so I gave it all I had.”

Tranberg leaves for South Korea in early July. There are two types of Fulbright initiatives in South Korea – one involving university-based research and another in which Fulbright scholars act as cultural ambassadors to small towns by teaching English and organizing monthly community programs to encourage greater cultural exchange. Tranberg received the latter. 

“I could talk forever about East Asian politics and development, but it's not because I'm Asian,” he said. “I have a genuine interest in the region because I see it of increasing importance in world politics and affecting our future in the U.S. If and when the time comes, I intend to effectively assist in the post-integration development of North and South Korea while maintaining stability in East-Asian and U.S. relations in that process.”

Tranberg is not new to international exchange experiences. In addition to his mission work, he spent the 2012 spring semester studying abroad in China, and the 2011 summer session participating in an intensive Global Leadership Institute at the University of the Virgin Islands.

“We are deeply proud of Seijin’s achievement,” said GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman, himself a recognized expert on international relations and author of several books on the subject. “He has taken advantage of the many opportunities provided by the college to lay a firm foundation for a successful career. He is a shining example of what is possible when students use their college years to enrich their educational experiences to the full extent possible. I look forward to watching what Seijin is able to achieve in the years to come.”

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