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Record 21 students win Fulbrights to study, teach abroad

May 19, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was chosen as one of ASU's highlights from 2010. Look here for a look back at some of the year's most prized stories.

A record 21 ASU students have won Fulbright awards to study and teach abroad next year, in 13 different countries—and new awards keep coming in. ASU is a leader in student Fulbrights, coming in second last year only to the University of Michigan, among public colleges.

Fourteen of ASU’s student Fulbright winners will teach English in foreign countries, while the others will tackle sophisticated research projects, ranging from solar energy to cancer research.

The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious awards programs worldwide. The awards, funded by Congress, were founded to increase mutual understanding between the United States and other countries.

The following students have designed research projects and have located faculty or programs abroad to further their research:

• Christina Clancey Rivera, a National Hispanic Scholar and a May graduate in electrical engineering, will go to the University of Alcala in Spain to study electrical energy generation systems known as microgrids, a promising new technology for renewable energy. Spain is one of the most advanced countries in installed renewable energy.

• Jeremy Wendte, a former Peace Corps volunteer and a senior in electrical engineering, will do a comprehensive study of solar electrification in Bangladesh. Working with faculty at Independent University Bangladesh, he will analyze the role of photovoltaic power in a developing nation which has a long history of diverse solar programs.

• David Walsh, a doctoral candidate in religious studies with an interest in indigenous people, will go to Canada to work with the Dene people of the Northwest Territories. He’ll explore Canada’s innovative dialogue between modern science and aboriginal traditional knowledge, since their scientists have incorporated the knowledge of tribal elders and hunters into their research on climate change, for instance.

• Eric Anderson, who just graduated with degrees in biomedical engineering, medicinal biochemistry and biological sciences, will go to the Netherlands to continue the cancer research he began three years ago at the Translational Genomics Research Institute. He’ll work on developing genetic diagnostic techniques with a top biomedical researcher at the University of Amsterdam.

• Allyn Knox, a May graduate in biology and French, will pursue a master’s in the rapidly developing discipline of biogeoscience at the Universities of Lausanne and Neuchatel in Switzerland. This is the only program in the world that offers fully integrated courses from geologists, biologists, molecular ecologists and biogeochemists, examining environmental challenges that threaten global health and security.

• Dusana Schnell-Vivas, a May graduate in marketing and Spanish, will enter the Comexus Binational Business Program in Mexico. She will study international business practices before getting a graduate degree from the ASU School of Sustainability, eventually returning to Mexico to work for a sustainability-oriented organization.

• Joanna Malukiewicz, a doctoral candidate in biology, will go to Brazil to conduct a genetic study on hybridization between common and black-tufted marmosets, which pose invasive threats to highly endangered primates such as golden-lion tamarins. She hopes to provide useful data to Brazilian policy makers for critical primate management decisions.

Six of the students will teach English in South Korea. Those headed for Korea are the following:

• Jacob Schmidgall, a May graduate in political science and film and media production, hopes to use film clips and music in English in his teaching. His desire to work with people from other cultures was sparked by his involvement as a mentor to a Nigerian refugee in Community Outreach and Advocacy for Refugees.

• Michelle Hernandez, who just received her master’s in education, has been teaching second graders at T.G. Barr Elementary in Phoenix as part of Teach for America. She hopes to put together a unit on Korea to bring back to her Arizona class, teaching them some of the language and introducing them to its culture through art, music and dance.

• Olenka Lenets, who immigrated from Ukraine as a child, just received her master’s in special education. She has been teaching at Bicentennial North Elementary School in Glendale as part of Teach for America, and hopes to start a pen-pal relationship between her students from Arizona and those in Korea.

• Justin Barbaro, a May graduate with a master’s in elementary education, also has been part of the Teach for America program, instructing third graders at I.G. Conchos Elementary School in Phoenix. Since Korea outperforms the United States on math assessments, he hopes to bring some of their techniques back to America and also develop a social studies unit on Korea for his Arizona students.

• Jing Song, who graduated a year ago in Chinese and business, became interested in Korea through language classes and pop music. As an actor, writer, director and choreographer, she also hopes to bring the arts into her teaching. She plans to volunteer with the Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach Mission.

 • Thanh-Lieu Duong, a May graduate in economics who has been very active in the Sustainability House at Barrett, chose Korea partly for its work in sustainability. She wants to publish a blog and newspaper articles about the aggressive Green Growth campaign instigated by the Korean government. As an active youth mentor at ASU, she also plans to work with Korean Kids and Orphanage Outreach.


These students also will teach English in other countries:


• Jessica Reyes, a May graduate in global studies, is headed to Spain. She has mentored students at Kino Junior High School but says her greatest challenge as a teacher was helping her mother, who is from Guatemala, learn English. Reyes also hopes to study Spain’s health care system, as she plans to attend medical school.

• Annie Pennell, who just received her master’s in elementary education and is winding up a stint with Teach for America at T.G. Barr Elementary in Phoenix, will go to Romania. With an undergraduate degree in literature, she also hopes to organize a book club for adults, helping them develop English skills in the process.

• Samantha Jensen, a May graduate in English literature and psychology, will teach in South Africa. At ASU she has tutored students from many different cultures and backgrounds in a variety of subjects. Building on her honors thesis on South African literature, she plans to develop a college-level course on the literature of South Africa.

• Jeffrey Bergquist, who received a master’s in secondary education in May, is finishing up his work with Teach for America at Orangedale Junior High in Phoenix. He is going to Indonesia, with the hope of establishing a pen-pal program between his Arizona students and those in Indonesia. An avid percussionist, he also plans to create a West-African style drumming club.

• Christina Mesiti, a December graduate in art history and painting, is bound for Mexico. She has tutored at an adult education center for several years, in addition to working with K-12 children in local schools. She also plans to complete a series of landscape paintings in an independent project, as a way of interacting with the neighborhood.

• Hayfa Aboukier, who earned her master’s in elementary education in May, will teach in Turkey, where she hopes to learn more about the culture and connect with her family’s roots. She has been teaching at Rose Linda Elementary in Phoenix for two years as part of Teach for America.

• Olivia Gutierrez, a May graduate in English and Italian, also will go to Turkey to teach. She also wants to research the history of traditional forms of theater in Turkey, developing a teaching unit for her future classroom in the U.S. that utilizes video, photography and essays.

• Brittany Collins, a December graduate in women and gender studies who also earned a certificate in Arabic, will teach in Jordan. She hopes to study the role women play in policy making, since the Jordanian monarchy has shown a great commitment to gender equality as reflected in a quota system for women’s representation in governing.