Pitt Alumna Receives German Chancellor Fellowship

Issue Date: 
May 4, 2017

A first-generation college student who earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of Pittsburgh in December 2016 has been awarded a German Chancellor Fellowship, funding fieldwork in Germany, where she will study the refugee population.

a young woman holding a bouquet of flowersSusan Pisarcik was awarded the fellowship from Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Pisarcik earned her bachelor’s degree in history and minored in German at the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

She and 49 other fellows were selected after three-day interviews and were recognized April 26 at a ceremony in Bonn, Germany. Ten of the honorees are United States citizens.

“It was quite an honor to present my research with a group of such exceptional, international young professionals,” said Pisarcik. “Being awarded the fellowship was something else entirely — I’m both relieved to have made it to this point and eager to get going again and really immerse myself in my fieldwork.”

During the course of a year, Pisarcik’s research project will be conducted in rural areas of Germany, where she will learn about the resettlement process through gathering anecdotes from refugees and aid workers and observing language acquisition courses and culture workshops. Many of these refugees have fled to Germany from countries whose economies are centered on agriculture.

She also will return to Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, where she studied abroad as a sophomore, for her research in social and cultural anthropology. Those studies will supplement her field research, the findings of which may address what improvements can be made to the resettlement process with respect to both refugees and citizens.

Pisarcik applied for this fellowship with assistance from Pitt’s University Honors College, which advises Pitt undergraduate students and alumni who are interested in pursuing national and international awards.

The German Chancellor Fellowship program is targeted at university graduates from the United States, Russia, China, Brazil and India who have an international outlook and initial leadership experience. The fellowships give them the opportunity to spend a year in Germany networking with other prospective leaders from abroad who also are sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation and to explore new solutions to the global issues of our times.