Commencement 2013: The Fulbright that almost wasn’t — International Business Program Graduate Dan Belbey embraces a global path

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KINGSTON, R.I. May 1, 2013 – Dan Belbey was so busy at the start of the academic year with work and an 18-credit course load that he almost didn’t apply for the Fulbright Scholarship that potentially had the power to return him to a country he loved and earn an advanced business degree.

With the application deadline approaching, Belbey, an International Business Program (IBP) senior at the University of Rhode Island, examined the required paperwork and asked Honors Program Assistant Director Kathleen Maher if she thought it was worth the effort.

“I said, ‘Do you think I should? Is there enough of a case here?’ ” he remembered asking Maher, who is the campus Fulbright Program advisor. “And she said I should definitely do it.”

Maher’s encouragement led Belbey to write a stellar personal essay and a statement of proposed study and research that landed him the prestigious award. The Fulbright will fund two of the three semesters needed for a Masters of Arts in Business Administration and Logistics at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

“It covers everything,” he said, listing expenses such as flight, insurance, and tuition on his fingers. “I could just see it working out. It was one way of trying to find financing to go back to Germany because I loved it there so much.”

Majoring in global business management and German, Belbey had spent a semester at Hamburg University last year and fallen in love with the city, which is the business and logistics heart of Europe. After Hamburg, he spent a semester in Munich, interning for BMW. Soon communicating in German was as natural to him as conversing in English.

Or Spanish.

Or Italian.

Multilingual, Belbey loves languages and travel. All of his life, he’s been surrounded by foreign cultures and communities; immersing himself in the unknown is where he thrives.

“It is the notion of beginning with zero knowledge and building a foundation of understanding and appreciation for something entirely foreign that I find so intriguing,” he said. “It shapes my life.”

Belbey’s childhood was spent in Maine, his pre-teen years in Virginia and mid-western Missouri, and high school was an international boarding school in New Hampshire. Surrounded by students from all over the world, he loved studying Latin, Greek, and Spanish. When his older brother traveled to Germany, Belbey started teaching himself the language.

The summer after he graduated high school, he went to Nicaragua. He attended a small college in North Carolina for a few years on a full academic scholarship, played Division II soccer and studied for a semester in Italy. Belbey interned at the BMW manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, S.C., before transferring to URI. Living at his parent’s home in Warwick, R.I., he commuted to Kingston, where he has mentored fellow IBP students and worked at the Office of International Education, which only reinforced his desire to explore the world.

“I would look at the pictures in the office and I would just want to travel,” he recalled.

Belbey praises the five-year IBP, which features a year abroad, specifically the internship aspect of the program. He singled out Associate Professor Douglas Hales and his Global Supply Chain class for solidifying a desire to work in logistics. He also appreciated the assistance of Associate Dean Shaw Chen and International Engineering Program Executive Director Sigrid Berka, who both offered valuable career guidance and helped with the complex task of making sure his courses transferred and counted.

“I loved the International Business Program and the College of Business Administration,” Belbey said. “The professors are awesome.”

The middle child of five, Belbey credits his parents for helping him live out his global aspirations.

“My parents always encouraged us to think big, just like URI says, and to have big dreams,” he said.

Belbey is looking forward to his master’s courses, which will be taught in German, and is very interested in customs, international trade, and supply chain management. He’s already reached out to his bosses at BMW in Munich about a graduate trainee program there after he has earned his advanced degree.

This award is among eight coveted national scholarships won by URI students this year. They were awarded two Fulbright Scholarships, three NOAA/Hollings Scholarships, a Whitaker Scholarship, a Truman Scholarship, and a Boren Scholarship.

Photo by Michael Salerno Photography