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Spartanburg’s Fuller receives Wofford’s presidential award

By Gary Glancy
gary.glancy@shj.com
Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Published: Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Regina Fuller named Presidential International Scholar.  Photo by Alex Hicks/Spartanburg Herald-Journal(Photo by Alex Hicks/Spartanburg Herald-Journal)

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For Regina Fuller, it's on the road again — this time for an entire academic year.

Wofford College's 25th Presidential International Scholar award stayed in Spartanburg this year, honoring a local girl who has maximized the school's commitment to study-abroad opportunities.

Fuller, a 2006 Spartanburg High graduate, was presented the award Tuesday by Wofford President Bernie Dunlap to a rousing ovation in Leonard Auditorium during Wofford's spring Honors Convocation.

Fuller, a junior Spanish and intercultural studies major, will spend the 2009-10 academic year traveling to developing countries researching her independent project titled "Exploring the African Diaspora."

Fuller called her selection "exhilarating" and "surreal."

"I just hope to share a lot of my experience," Fuller said, "not only with the Wofford community, but I'm a Spartanburg native and so I hope my travels can help a lot of people here who have been in the South their entire lives and have never left, (to share) how, together, we're all one humanity and how our actions here can affect someone there, and vice-versa."

Funded by a private donor, the presidential award is chosen personally each year by Wofford's president as "the singular student best fitted to benefit humankind."

The scholar, who must have at least one year remaining at Wofford before graduation, is given the opportunity to pursue a specific topic of study and must return in time for next year's Honors Convocation to share the experience with the Wofford community.

Fuller will then fulfill her remaining academic requirements in 2010-11.

"Regina Fuller has been a virtual force of nature since her first arrival on the Wofford campus," Dunlap said in a statement. "Her brilliance and drive are matched by her compassion and creativity. She will be an extraordinary Presidential International Scholar."

For her project, Fuller said she'll study how those of African descent throughout Asia and Latin America, dispersed through the European and Arab slave trades, have retained their African heritage through traditions such as song and dance.

Fuller is no stranger to travel. So far in her Wofford career she's studied abroad in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, where she studied Afro-Caribbean culture and the rejection of Afro identity by black Dominicans. During her sophomore Interim, Fuller volunteered in a creche in Cape Town, South Africa, while studying the present-day effects of the Trust and Reconciliation Movement.

More recently, Fuller just completed a spring semester internship on Capitol Hill with U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., with the South Carolina Washington Semester Program.

"I'm excited," Fuller said about Tuesday's announcement. "I'm sad about leaving my family and friends at Wofford — I really love my friends in the class of 2010 — but we can catch up over Facebook."