Finance Major Was Part of Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute

Chapal Bhavsar was selected to be part of an interdisciplinary program emphasizing climate change, sustainability, and civic responsibility for the future of the planet

Chapal Bhavsar '26 poses for a photo next to Swan Lake

Chapal Bhavsar '26 poses for a photo next to Swan Lake on Oct. 3, 2023. (Sydney Herdle/UConn Photo)

UConn sophomore Chapal Bhavsar ’26 (BUS) spent four weeks this summer in England as part of the prestigious Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute. The Danbury native and finance major was selected by the US-UK Fulbright Commission to study at the University of Exeter’s Summer Institute on Global Sustainability, an interdisciplinary program emphasizing climate change, sustainability, and civic responsibility for the future of the planet.

“As a Fulbright summer program participant, I was able to explore the University of Exeter and all that it has to offer in addition to further exploring my interests in a more interconnected and sustainable world,” says Bhavsar. “I hope the work I did will enable me to be a more involved and global citizen and the knowledge I brought back will help me create broader connections among my community.”

The US-UK Fulbright Commission works to advance knowledge, promote civic engagement, and develop compassionate leaders through education exchange between the U.S. and the U.K. It is the only academic awards program that operates on both sides of the Atlantic, providing grants for postgraduate study, research, and teaching.

Each year, the commission supports up to 60 undergraduate students from the United States to undertake demanding academic and cultural summer programs at leading institutions across the United Kingdom. Institutes are generally three to four weeks in duration.

The application for the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute, which opens in November, is a rigorous one that includes four essay questions of varying lengths. Bhavsar learned he was a finalist for the program in March while attending a conference in Washington, D.C., and then had a virtual interview with the Fulbright committee the following month. He learned he had been selected for the program a few days after that interview

Bhavsar left for the United Kingdom in early July and spent time getting to know London and meeting his fellow Summer Institute participants. He then moved to the University of Exeter, in the southwest part of the country, where he was based on the Streatham campus.

“We had lectures from a different professor each day,” says Bhavsar. “Exeter is one of the top schools in the world for global sustainability and climate research and we were able to do research there and use their labs.”

Bhavsar’s research project was an economic analysis of waste-to-energy solutions in Algeria. He worked on that project while at Exeter and presented it to members of its Faculty of Environment, Science and Economy. Bhavsar finished the final paper upon his return home.

“I met a lot of people from all over the world … places like Australia, Canada, and France,” says Bhavsar. “It was super interesting. … I had never met anyone from Australia before. We were able to explore the culture of another country in great depth, which was awesome.”

Bhavsar is the first UConn student selected to participate in this program since Erin Puglia ’17 (CLAS), who studied conflict resolution at Queen’s University Belfast during the summer of 2015.

Now that he has returned to UConn, Bhavsar would like to study the infrastructure of developing countries and the United States to see how policymakers can make decisions that are both fiscally sound and for the entire population.

He has already started looking for job opportunities for after graduation that are focused on how the United States can support other countries in a positive way.

Bhavsar credits LuAnn Sanders-Kanabay, who recently retired from UConn’s Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships, and anthropology graduate student Roxanne Lebenzon, who serves as his mentor, for helping him through the process of earning the fellowship.

The Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships (ONSF) is a resource for students interested in learning more about the Fulbright U.K. Summer Institutes and other prestigious, externally-funded scholarships and fellowships that support both graduate and undergraduate study. ONSF is part of Enrichment Programs and is open to all graduate and undergraduate students at the University, including students at the regional campuses. For more information about Fulbright, contact Michael Cunningham, UConn’s Fulbright Program Adviser.