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Students studying abroad extend ASU’s global reach

June 05, 2008

At least 21 ASU students and recent graduates will be studying and teaching abroad next year, having won prestigious Fulbright and National Security Education Program (NSEP) awards. Their destinations include 17 different countries.

Their projects range from studying the elections process in Russia to analyzing Arabic media in Egypt. One student will examine the development of nanotechnology in Mexico, while another plans to explore the creative and technical aspects of Samoan operas in New Zealand.

Each award winner developed a proposal and applied for a specific country. ASU students are especially successful at winning these overseas study grants, partly because of ASU’s emphasis on global studies and foreign languages. Other factors are the strong support they receive from faculty mentors and word-of-mouth among peers, particularly at Barrett, the Honors College.

ASU led the country in NSEPs last year and was fourth-highest among public schools for Fulbright awards. This year, ASU has won nine NSEPs and 14 Fulbrights so far, though two students declined the Fulbright awards to pursue other opportunities.

Fulbright students find specialists who are willing to work with them on their chosen study project, or they teach English. All receive full travel, living and academic expenses for an academic year. The NSEP awards provide up to $20,000 for a year’s study in countries that are outside Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Both programs are aimed at increasing international understanding and, in the NSEP program, providing a base of future leaders in parts of the world that are of critical interest to the United States. Three students will be in Russia next year and three in Egypt, with the rest spread throughout the globe.

The following students are 2008 Fulbright Scholars:

• Jamie Adamson, a December graduate in political science with a concentration in international studies, will teach English in Taiwan. After returning, she plans to apply to Teach for America, then get a graduate degree and work for the U.S. State Department.

• Courtney-Savali Andrews, a doctoral student in opera and musical theatre conducting, will go to New Zealand to study and document the techniques of five Samoan operas. As an accomplished musician whose mother was a native of American Samoa, she hopes to introduce one of the operas in the United States after her return.

• Roberto Dominguez, who graduated in December in economics and Spanish, plans to teach English in Spain. He also hopes to study the impact the European Union has had on the country’s economy and its citizens, the citizens’ language dialects and their standards of living.

• Emily Falkner, who just received a master’s degree in mass communication, will teach English to university students in Poland. At ASU, she created an educational and cultural blog that will be used in class activities and assignments for Slavic language classes.

• Jonathan Kelley, a December graduate in communication, plans to teach English in South Korea. He spent the last two summers teaching English in the Czech Republic, and he hopes eventually to publish journal articles about his international communication experiences.

• Ian Lee, who graduated in December in broadcast journalism, has an ambitious project to analyze Arabic and English press in Cairo, Egypt, comparing coverage in the two media of major historical events over the past 10 years. He also will work on an electronic journal at American University of Cairo’s Center for Electronic Journalism.

• Cara Steiner Kiggins, a graduate last year in anthropology who was involved in refugee resettlement during her time at ASU, will pursue a graduate degree in forced migration and refugee studies at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. She is director of Community Outreach and Advocacy for Refugees, an organization that has grown from an ASU student club to a mature nonprofit.

• Zachary Pirtle, a master’s student in environmental engineering, will study developments in nanotechnology in Mexico and their consequences, interviewing key researchers and scientists. Mexico is on the verge of implementing fundamental changes in its science policy, with nanotechnology research at the center.

• Ryan Sandell, who just received a bachelor’s in music and philosophy, will study for his master’s in Indo-European linguistics, at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Though he concentrated his undergraduate career on clarinet performance, he has shifted his focus to language, planning an academic career as a linguist.

• Taylor Spears, a May graduate in economics and math, plans to enter a master’s program in science and technology policy at the University of Sussex in England. As one of the most outstanding graduates from Barrett, he has been involved in sustainability initiatives since he was a freshman, and he has been an intern for the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes.

• Eva Wingren, who graduated in May in anthropology, will teach English in Malaysia. She also hopes to do research into the integration of traditional and Western medical practices, and the extent to which the two systems coexist. Eventually she wants to work in public health.

• Julianne Yee, a May graduate in finance and English literature, plans to teach English in Hong Kong. She also hopes to improve her facility with speaking Cantonese and to eventually attend law school.

These students are 2008 NSEP Scholars:

• Francine Banner, a doctoral student in justice and social inquiry, will study the Russian language in Moscow and will conduct research on Chechen women’s experiences during and after the Russo-Chechen wars.

• Laurie Dermer, a senior in Slavic languages and language theory, also will go to Russia to study the language. She will examine Russian media reports on the Russian government’s foreign policy, particularly with respect to its involvement in the Middle East.

• Matthew Jacobs, a senior in global studies, will attend the University of Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina to study the Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian languages. He hopes to examine the role of languages in ethnic tension.

• Derek Kedziora, a senior in Slavic languages and literature, is headed for Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, a strategically important country in the struggle against the Taliban. As interethnic relations and language policy are intertwined, he will study the Russian and Kyrgyz languages and how they relate to security issues.

• Seth Pate, a master’s student in political science, will study at the University of Hyderabad in India, researching India’s effort to use the Hindi language as a tool to create national unity.

• Gabriella Sanchez, a doctoral student in justice and social inquiry, plans to spend more than a year in Tangier, Morocco, studying the increase in human and drug trafficking networks.

• Sara Schwalm, a senior in Slavic languages and political science, will study in Russia for a year, both to investigate the role of Russian media corruption in the 2008 presidential election and to increase her fluency in Russian.

• Tegan Tonge, who received an anthropology degree in May, will go to Egypt to examine the problem of the arrival of thousands of refugees from Africa and the Middle East. She will study Arabic at the American University in Cairo, take classes in the university’s refugee studies program and volunteer with a refugee agency.

• Samantha Willey, a senior in Spanish and political science, is headed for Brazil to complete two projects. She hopes to spend one semester at a field school program in the Amazon rainforest, studying how Brazil-U.S. biofuel partnerships affect human ecology and the Amazon. In the second semester, she aims to improve her fluency in Portuguese at a language school in Maceio, Brazil.