Católica Fellowships for Portuguese-American Students: Sabrina Brum's challenging and successful academic experience

Sabrina Brum

Universidade Católica Portuguesa annually offers 5 fellowships to Portuguese American students seeking undergraduate or Masters level degrees in any field of knowledge. In 2019, Sabrina Brum was one of the students who earned the Católica Fellowship for Portuguese-American Students, choosing the Master in Political Science and International Relations at Instituto de Estudos Políticos, in Lisbon.

After learning she had received the fellowship, Sabrina was "speechless". "I was so happy to have received such a unique opportunity that I couldn't believe it", says the 23-year-old student. "It was not only the relief of having received a scholarship, but it was also a great opportunity to return to Portugal and start a new stage in my life."

Sabrina had already visited the country in the Summer of 2018 when she completed an internship in Lisbon through the Study in Portugal Network. "I was in love with Lisbon. I wanted to come back and the fellowship seemed like the best opportunity for me", she explains.

In the United States, Sabrina studied at Rhode Island College where a professor told her about the Católica Fellowships for Portuguese-American Students. "I was already considering different Master programs in the United States but the tuition fees are so expensive that I wasn't sure of how I would be able to pay. I thought this fellowship, the Católica Fellowship for Portuguese American Students, would the best option for me."

The student believes this initiative "can strengthen the relationship between the Portuguese-speaking Diaspora and Portugal. Many Portuguese descendants are interested in connecting with their roots, and this fellowship is the perfect opportunity".

Interested in International Relations since she was very young, "especially the relations between the United States and Portugal", Sabrina has found her own place in the Master in Political Science and International Relations. "Universidade Católica's Instituto de Estudos Políticos has an exceptional reputation and I was sure it would be the best option for me", she says.

Although she was very certain about this choice, Sabrina was still surprised and challenged by her academic experience at Universidade Católica Portuguesa. "My academic path has been a challenge, but a useful challenge which has taught me a lot", she explains. "The friendships I have made with my colleagues are undoubtedly the best part of studying at IEP, but also the diversity of courses offered. Although I am in the Master's program in Portuguese, I have the option of taking some classes in English in which I have met colleagues from around the world. The classes have very interesting themes with well-versed teachers and speakers."

Sabrina is very happy about this experience, which is not over yet, and tells us she has learned a lot and is enjoying the challenge. The adaptation to a new academic system has been successfully overcome, and she recalls some of the most memorable moments: “since the academic system is so different from the American system, the evaluation period was the hardest one. Even so, I have learned a lot and I have had the opportunity to attend and participate in various seminars and lectures, such as the lecture on NATO, in which the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, participated”.

With an American accent, the student leaves a message for anyone considering applying to the program: "Go for it! Universidade Católica is a prestigious university with programs for all. The Instituto de Estudos Políticos has diverse and stimulating classes, lectures and seminars which prepare the students for a prosperous future. The program can be challenging sometimes, but the experience and the acquired knowledge are worth it".

The Católica Fellowships for Portuguese-American Students are merit based fellowships awarded to American students of Portuguese descent, who wish to seek a degree at Universidade Católica Portuguesa. The fellowship is awarded to candidates for undergraduate or Masters level degrees in any field of knowledge.