on October 31, 2022
  • Research

Published on October 31, 2022 Updated on October 31, 2022

“Thanks to the Fulbright grant for doctoral students, I was able to further my research and get a head-start in my career.”

The "Fulbright-CY Cergy Paris University" program is an annual exchange program that offers grants to American students, teachers, and researchers looking to study in France and also provides financial support for French students enrolled in one of CY Cergy Paris University's doctoral schools for a stay in a university or research institute in the United States. We had the pleasure to chat with Dr. Mailys M. George, who had the opportunity to join George Mason University for a 4-month visiting in 2019 thanks to a Fulbright grant.

Can you tell us more about yourself and your career?

Dr. Mailys M. George: Before my Ph.D. studies, I was a student at a French Business School. Writing my Master’s thesis was a turning point: it is then that I realized how interested I was in doing research. Months later, I had the chance to participate in coaching sessions at Barcelona Activa, a school of soft skills funded by the European Union. It is in this very conducive environment that I began to ask myself questions about what I wanted to do. I realized that the people who were my role models and who inspired me the most were professors and that maybe this was the right job for me. I asked my former professors about their jobs and what needed to be done to access such positions. I’m very happy I chose this path, especially now that I am an Assistant Professor of Management at EDHEC after a PhD at ESSEC under the direction of Professor Karoline Strauss and a postdoctoral position at IESE in Spain.

During my Ph.D.,  I had the chance to do two visitings. The first one was at KU Leuven in Belgium and the second one at George Mason University in the United States for which I was awarded a Fulbright grant. It is for this second exchange that I obtained the Fulbright scholarship.

What research topics are you working on?

Dr. Mailys M. George: I study identity and role transitions, two related topics. In my research on role transitions, I study how individuals move from one role to another and the challenges that accompany this movement. There are two types of transitions: everyday transitions, also known in the jargon as micro transitions, and macro role  transitions where one leaves a previously held role to take on a new one. 
In my research on identity, I investigate how individuals sustain representations of themselves that foster feelings of continuity and coherence in contexts characterized by uncertainty. 
My work explores the intersection of the two themes and the role of identity in undertaking and navigating role transitions.

Let's focus now on Fulbright. Why did you apply to the program?

Dr. Mailys M. George: I first came to know about the Fulbright program in 2017 via a newsletter sent to PhD students at ESSEC and CY Cergy Paris University. I applied a year later. From the start, I realized that this grant could be a wonderful opportunity for me to expand my network but also to work with experts in my field. Thanks to the Fulbright grant, I was able to work with my co-author Kevin Rockman and to meet other researchers from George Mason University. The project I submitted to the Fulbright program ended up being one of the essays in my dissertation. 

Importantly, this visiting allowed me to develop another project that is already published in Academy of Management Annals and that came about in discussions with  Kevin and our colleague Sarah Wittman. Getting this paper published allowed me to get a head-start in my career.  
During this visiting, I was also able to start collaborating with another colleague, Heather Vough, and we currently have a paper under revision at a journal and another project in the pipeline together. 
In sum, this experience gave me a huge boost, both personally and professionally. 

What project did you submit as part of your application? 

Dr. Mailys M. George: The project  I submitted is actually a research topic for which I won an award at the 2018 ESSEC PhD poster session: the hypothetical home self. When they move abroad, people often begin to think about who they would have been if they had stayed in their home country. For example, individuals can start thinking about how they would have been a different person, how different (better or worse) their life would have been if they had stayed, and so on. I was interested in studying what happens when people start thinking about this hypothetical home self and how these thoughts influence them in the present. 

I was able to collect interesting data, including descriptions of the hypothetical home self, and survey data that allowed me to test the relationship between the hypothetical home self and several key variables, including host country satisfaction, adjustment, regrets…During my visiting at George Mason University, I was able to gather additional data that enriched my thinking.  


How did the Fulbright grant benefit you ? Why would you recommend it?

Dr. Mailys M. George: A visiting is a very important step in a Ph.D. It allows you to develop a network of collaborators while also gaining different perspectives on what being a scholar entails in different countries. Being bicultural and having lived in several different countries, I was always attracted to the global side of Academia.  
Further, getting a Fulbright scholarship is extremely valued internationally, and especially in the United States. Getting such funding really improves a person’s profile! 
In addition, applying for grants is part and parcel of the researcher’s job. Fulbright was my first grant application experience and it allowed me to gain valuable experience in applying for research funding. I am convinced this has played a role in my securing other grants later on. 

About Fulbright 

The Fulbright-CY Initiative is an annual exchange program that offers grants to  American students, faculty, and researchers in one of the CY Initiative partner institutions, and also provides financial support for doctoral  students enrolled in one of the CY Cergy Paris University doctoral schools for a stay at a university or research institute in the United States. Every year, the program awards funding to two researchers for stays up to ten months.
Learn more about Fulbright

Learn more about Maïlys George