Grantee Story: from Saranac Lake to Ufa

Dr. Selina LeMay-Klippel, U.S. Scholar from North Country Community College (Saranac Lake, NY), has recently completed her teaching practice at Bashkir State Medical University in Ufa and spoke with the Moscow Fulbright office about her experience and participation in the Fulbright program.

Tell us a little bit about your professional background and how you became a Fulbright Scholar.
I have, in my opinion a very eclectic background. I began my college years in community colleges where there was not only opportunity for an affordable education, but a great education as well. I studied nursing and graduated with a degree in nursing. I worked briefly as a nurse but wanted to further both my education and role in patient care. I have always loved nontraditional approaches to healthcare so I decided that Chiropractic would be the best avenue of study. I had a wonderful and fulfilling practice for 16 years before I again felt the need to evolve and transition. North Country Community College offered me an opportunity to teach in their nursing program and I have been there for the last 13 years. Being first exposed to the Fulbright program at a healthcare conference, I knew at that moment it was a dream I needed to fulfil. It was brought to my attention that the Fulbright program would be broadened and opened to scholars from different backgrounds including community institutions. The window of opportunity opened, and I jumped wholeheartedly with the amazing support and encouragement of my family and home university, NCCC.

What were your first impressions about Russia and its people? Have they changed now that you've lived here for a while?
I was expecting the people of Russia to be very serious, non-smiling and not engaging, but what I have found is the exact opposite. From the professors at the University to the wait staff, hotel clerks, and students in the classroom, the friendliness and generosity has been inspiring. Their hospitality and innate love for culture and the arts far exceeds my expectations. They are eager to share their stories, their regional foods and their magnificent culture in a way that feels most like being given a gift, which truly it is, into the historical insight of the land and it’s peoples.

What were you teaching at Bashkir State Medical University? What kind of rapport have you built with students?
Until recently I was teaching Nursing to the Medical College students and working with University professors. I have been focusing on fundamental aspects of nursing and the important role nursing plays in the collaborative approach to healthcare. The students are eager to learn and seem very well prepared in their studies. We worked on a project together where we were connecting my students at my home University to the students here via video. The students asked questions, we recorded them asking the questions and then sent the video to New York to be played, answered and returned. It was exciting to see the interest from both groups about this connection. The students have been very supportive and patient as many of the lectures are translated from English to Russian, and I hope they were enjoying me as much as I was enjoying being with and teaching them. The professors here asked me how I felt my University differed from theirs. I told them that I choose not to look at differences but rather similarities. When I look at the relationship of concern and respect between professors and students I see the same concern and hopes that our students too will create a better, safer world. As much as our systems of education may differ, we are at the core the same.

What do you think of the value of the Fulbright program?
The Fulbright program to me, reflects my true beliefs that through education, communication and cultural exchange we can unite people. In my statement for application I stated that I truly believe the mothers and fathers of one country want the same for their children as mothers and fathers of another. By bridging this gap through educational outreach, we are bringing the message of a common denominator; love for our children and the hopes for a better life. The Fulbright program allows scholars, students and researchers to be the ambassadors for this peaceful exchange of knowledge and culture. Its value is inestimable.

What do you plan to do after the Fulbright grant?
My plans are this: I want to talk to and share with as many people I can about my experience here in Russia and already have speaking engagements scheduled with some local civic groups. I want to present to my University the experience of the Fulbright program and encourage my colleagues to apply. Create presentations for our Nursing Department and clubs on the comparative approaches to healthcare. And, most important to me, I hope to continue to hold a piece of Russia in my heart to reflect and cherish throughout my lifetime.

Article about Dr. LeMay-Klippel on the Bashkir State Medical University website:
Professors from USA teach in BSMU

The Fulbright Program in Russia. Institute of International Education.
Tverskaya St., 16 building 1, office 504, Moscow, Russia 125009
Tel: +7.495.966.9353 Contact: