VIU Welcomes Alaska Undergrad as Killam Fellow

VIU’s Killam Fellow Charlotte Stark

September 26, 2014 - 10:00am

A busy year of academic studies in her Psychology major lies ahead for Charlotte Stark, who is attending Vancouver Island University (VIU) this year as a Killam Fellow on exchange from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Killam Fellowships are awarded to undergraduate students in Canada and the US by Fulbright Canada, which facilitates educational exchanges for scholars in the two countries.

Stark arrived at VIU in September to begin classes for the fall semester from her hometown of Fairbanks, AK, having never travelled to Canada before.

With a number of choices among Canadian universities before her, she said she considered both McGill University in Montreal and VIU, and chose the latter for its small class sizes, diverse culture, temperate climate and reputation as a teaching university.

In her first year of undergrad studies in Fairbanks, Stark applied for the Killam Fellowship on the advice of one of her professors. A Psychology major, she was named to the Chancellors list in her first year at the University of Alaska, and placed second in the State in the “We the People” debate competition.

“The Fulbright program is one of the most prestigious academic exchange programs in the world, and we are extremely pleased that Charlotte has chosen to continue her studies in Psychology at VIU, as our Killam Fellow,” said John Black, Dean of Social Sciences.

 A few weeks into her classes, Stark is meeting new friends and getting used to studying in Canada. One aspect she said she has appreciated about VIU and Nanaimo is cultural diversity.

“One thing I’ve noticed coming to Canada and VIU is that it’s a lot more racially diverse, which I really like,” she said.

Stark’s application to the Fulbright Canada program included a description of her plans to pursue a research project in uncommon mental disorders when she returns to Fairbanks for her third undergraduate year in 2015.

One example of a little known mental disorder is Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, which Stark said she suffered from as a young person. Those with the disorder experience changes to their vision and perception, causing objects around them to seemingly grow or shrink. The disorder is most common in children, but some people continue to experience it into adulthood.

Stark is unsure about a career direction in future, but said she’s currently thinking about focusing on industrial organizational psychology.

“It’s working with companies to make the workplace more productive and less stressful,” she said. “I think that would be cool to pursue, or maybe research.”

Whatever she decides, Stark said she’s happy to have the experience of living and studying in Canada and at VIU as a Killam Fellow.

“I grew up in a very positive atmosphere, about following your dreams and being happy,” she said. “My parents are very supportive and very proud of me.”

The Fulbright Program operates in 150 countries in the world, and has 300,000 alumni. The Killam Fellowships Program, administered by Fulbright Canada, is supported by American Killam Trusts, Foreign Affairs, Trade & Development Canada, and the Fulbright Canada Foundation.


About Fulbright Canada

Fulbright Canada is a joint, bi-national, treaty-based organization created to encourage mutual understanding between Canada and the United States of America through academic and cultural exchange. Fulbright Canada is supported by the Canadian Government through Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, by the United States Government through the Department of State, and by a diverse group of corporate sponsors, charitable trusts, and university partners. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors and operates out of Ottawa.


Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443  C: 250.618.1535 E: T: @viunews

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