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Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Jan Strojil

This week we share the achievements of another one of our alumni, Dr. Jan Strojil, who has worked tirelessly since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis to help society and Fulbrighters alike. Read on to learn more about how Dr. Strojil’s active commitment to the Fulbright program as an alumnus led him to create English-friendly medical guidelines and services for our American grantees in the Czech Republic, who initially faced a large amount of uncertainty and anxiety due to the global pandemic.

Jan Strojil from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry of Palacký University in Olomouc, Czech Republic, is a Fulbright- Masaryk program alumnus from the 2015/2016 year. Dr. Strojil was a clear principal candidate for the selection committee, fitting all of the ideal qualities for this special scholarship as a scientist with broad involvement in civil society. The topic of his project, therapeutic drug monitoring and individualized dosing of antibiotics was a timely one, as the research in pharmacology and especially in precise dosage is of utmost importance right now. No one was surprised that his project at the University of Southern California was successful and that he came back with a thorough knowledge of his field, the university he visited, and the American society in which he lived for 10 months.

When he came back from his stay, Dr. Strojil continued with lecturing and research, as well as active participation within his university as a member of the Academic Senate. He published numerous articles in peer reviewed journals and advanced in his career. Already in his Fulbright-Masaryk final report, we could read that he would be honored to help the Fulbright program and future Fulbright grantees. In the following years, we heard about his active participation in the local Fulbright alumni group, he hosted events for American Fulbrighters, and invited ETAs from the region to visit his town and organized a program for them.

In recent weeks, the work of all Fulbright Commissions became extremely complicated by the pandemic situation and how to communicate effectively with grantees. For our American grantees, who in most cases do not need to fulfill a language requirement to be eligible for their grant in the Czech Republic, it was difficult to keep up with the changing government rules, evolving understanding of the virus, and guidelines for how to be safe. Although most doctors in the Czech Republic speak English and medical information on helplines may be available in English under normal circumstances, for information about the current pandemic, newly established helplines were set up in Czech only.

At the very beginning of the worsening situation in the Czech Republic, Jan contacted us to offer help with medical advice. Together with his colleague, Vit Prochazka (a Proshek-Fulbright alumnus from Palacký University), they translated a short and clear information manual for our American grantees. Dr. Strojil and Dr. Prochazka also set up an English helpline our grantees could use with the help of English-speaking foreign students at Palacký University. This became very useful in numerous cases, such as to inquire whether a cold could be coronavirus related, or to determine how to quarantine after coming back from spring break travels. When the Level 4 travel warning was issued, Jan compiled a manual for those who would be travelling under relatively dangerous circumstances through airports in countries with a wider spread of the disease and sitting on planes with people who could already be infected. This help was essential not only in getting the information to our grantees but also in decreasing anxiety through accurate medical knowledge. Despite Jan’s work at the hospital and university during this crisis, his support of Fulbright grantees in his spare hours in the evenings, during nights, and on weekends shows true above and beyond dedication to helping others.

When a Fulbright selection committee tries to identify the best and the brightest, it also looks at the other characteristics of an applicant, such as their leadership capabilities, ability to spread the Fulbright missions, and human potential for making the world better. Jan Strojil represents all of these qualities, both in his work as a Fulbright grantee, as an alumnus, and especially as an alumnus in these extraordinary times.

Photo by Kateřina Strojilová