Success Story of Jakub Trojan | A student of the Fullbright Scholarship
From Uherske Hradiste, Czech Republic to the beaches of Santa Barbara, USA. How LIGS graduate Jakub Trojan won the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.
"The difference between the Czech and American university systems is huge," says Jakub Trojan. A geographer and academic who works in citizen science and regional development, he is also among the LIGS Alumni. We wanted to know what experiences and new knowledge the LIGS program gave him. And we also talked about his current position at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he works on BikeMaps.org and WalkRollMap.org projects.
Could you introduce yourself a bit to readers?
I am a geographer, academic, and scientist working at Tomas Bata University in Zlín, Masaryk University, and the Institute of Geonics of the Academy of Sciences. My specialization is citizen science, regional development, and environmental management.
Congratulations on receiving a Fulbright scholarship. How did you manage to get it?
I am active in the European Association for Citizen Science and I am developing this in the Czech Republic. I am involved in its methodology and institutionalization, which also led me to the research team based at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Here, I was put in touch with my current mentor by a friend, and we came up with a project that was accepted and supported by the Fulbright Commission.
Where do you work and what is the content and goal of the project?
I'm in the Department of Geography at the beautiful campus of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). My colleagues and I are developing citizen science projects (particularly BikeMaps.org mapping bicyclist safety and WalkRollMap.org mapping barriers) and looking at how pandemic times have impacted citizen science projects.
What do you like about American universities and what do you see as the biggest differences between US and Czech higher education?
The UCSB campus is dreamy - it has its own lagoon, and beach, and a significant percentage of students and faculty surf. The differences between US and Czech education are evident at almost every turn - from the organization of the academic year (here they have quarters, not semesters) to the dedication and high readiness of the students here (who have to pay tuition) to the (sometimes excessive) hypercorrectness.
How do you remember your studies at LIGS University? How do you evaluate it several years after its successful completion?
I evaluate it in a very positive way and I think back to it often. I enjoy reading the newsletters I still subscribe to and especially following its development. It is clear that this is a school that does not rest on its laurels. It has come a huge way in the time since my graduation and I am proud to have studied here.
What has it brought you or how has it helped you in your life or career?
It has helped me significantly with my management skills and insight into soft skills. As a graduate in the 'hard' sciences, I was well prepared technically, but my managerial skills (as well as insight into strategic management, etc.) were lacking.
Would you recommend studying at LIGS University? And if so, why?
Definitely yes! One should always educate oneself, and I consider professional education to be pivotal in further personal development. Standard university studies are a great foundation, but there is no substitute for professional development. At the same time, it allows online study, which is the trend nowadays. And by being involved in distance education for many years, it has a big head start on the others. Not just technologically.
What would you recommend to LIGS University students? (What to focus on, how to study, etc.).
One is the master of one's time and must allocate one's study time effectively. It sounds like a cliché, but time management is very important in distance learning. As well as intrinsic motivation. I did part of my online MBA while I was on an internship at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. And I found it very useful to study at the university (or any other) library. You can have there peace of mind, many resources, a motivating environment, reliable internet, and a cafe - that's all I needed to study afterward.
When are you returning to the Czech Republic and how do you think you will use the experience and knowledge you gained from the Fulbright scholarship?
We are returning with my family at the end of May 2023. I don't doubt that the Fulbright Scholarship is a great asset. I have already made contacts that will allow me to further my professional development. I've gotten into projects I've only read about. And I've met people I only know from books or articles. Besides, I'm learning about American culture and sharpening my English.