Fulbright Scholar Farisal Bagsit had dreamed of studying abroad for years but turned down opportunities in the past due to personal obligations. When she was selected as a Fulbright Scholar in 2016, Bagsit knew she had to take the opportunity to leave her native Philippines to travel to the United States.
“It’s a bit far, but I was told if you really want rigid training you go to the U.S.,” said Bagsit.
Bagsit came to East Carolina University’s coastal resource management program to pursue her Ph.D. in social science and coastal policy through the Fulbright Scholar Program awarded through the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. According to the Fulbright website, it is the U.S.’s flagship international educational exchange program that sponsors student exchanges in approximately 160 countries worldwide. Students are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential.
Before coming to the U.S., Bagsit worked for seven years as a researcher at the University of the Philippines Visayas, where she received her undergraduate degree in marine fisheries and master’s degree in marine affairs. After completing her studies at ECU, she she hopes to return to the to the same university as a faculty member.
Bagsit’s research centers around small-scale fisheries. She is also interested in studying the ripple effect of fishery closures in her home country.
Dr. David Griffith, interim director for the Institute for Coastal Science and Policy, is Bagsit’s adviser. He said she is very motivated and has already fleshed out her doctoral dissertation. The topic of choice involves the social and economic impacts of closures in the Filipino sardine fishery.
“By the end of her first year she had a full proposal drafted with the flexibility to respond to political developments in the Philippines,” said Griffith.
Bagsit said the fishery closures began in 2011 but the effects are just now being realized in parts of her country.
“I want to see how the closures effect people’s livelihoods and economics in the community,” said Bagsit.
Her first year in the program has been demanding and Bagsit admits she didn’t have much time to explore Greenville. After completing the first summer session of classes, she took a trip to the beach and returned home for a few weeks to visit her husband and three children before returning to complete her second year. She hopes to attend her first ECU football game this fall.
“This is a good opportunity to experience American culture,” said Bagsit.
-by Jamie Smith