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28 Notre Dame Students and Alumni Win Fulbright Awards for 2016-17

Nina Welding • DATE: June 30, 2016

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs recently announced the results of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for grants taking place in 2016-17, with 48 current Notre Dame students and alumni recognized by the program. A total of 28 Notre Dame students and alumni won the prestigious award (12 graduate and 16 undergraduate), 10 are alternates (5 graduate and 6 undergraduate), and 10 earned recognition as semi-finalists (5 graduate and 5 undergraduate).

The number of Notre Dame students and alumni recognized is nearly double the previous University record, and the number of winners is 59 percent higher than the previous Notre Dame record of 17, set last year. According to Notre Dame Provost Thomas Burish, “This is wonderful news. Fulbright is one of the oldest, most respected, and most effective programs in the world for international student engagement. On behalf of all the faculty, I offer heart-felt congratulations to our applicants whether or not they received an award. We know that going through the process required considerable time and effort, and that it can lead to a much greater understanding of global issues. To those who received the award and will be traveling to places all around the world, we send our best wishes for much success and fulfillment in their work.”

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program, offering students grants to conduct research, study, and teach abroad. Top-producing institutions are highlighted annually in The Chronicle of Higher Education. This year’s number will likely raise Notre Dame’s national ranking to one of the top ten universities in the country for 2016-17.

The Fulbright competition at Notre Dame is open to all current students and alumni, and is administered at the graduate level by the Graduate School Office of Grants & Fellowships; the undergraduate level is administered by the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement (CUSE). Students and alumni create an application for the fellowship program in conjunction with their faculty advisor and under the direction of either the Graduate School or CUSE. The rise in awards won by Notre Dame applicants this year corresponds to the increasing efforts by the Graduate School and CUSE to provide both one-on-one consultations and group support for students throughout the application process, including conceptualization of projects, writing and revising proposals, and interview preparation and practice.

According to McKenzie Hightower, an undergraduate English and film major: “The Fulbright application process, regardless of the outcome, is incredibly beneficial. It allowed me to crystalize all the work I have been doing at Notre Dame over these last four years. The process was akin to a senior capstone for me; not an academic one, but a personal one. Synthesis of one’s life in this way is always beneficial, especially at pivotal moments of uncertainty — like the looming specter of graduation. It was only through this introspection that I realized the aspects of my life that I wanted to pursue further after graduation: creativity, service, and teaching. If nothing else, the Fulbright application process pushed me to challenge the (seemingly) intractable plans I had laid out for myself since freshman year: graduate school, job, and then a professorship. It made me realize the diverse and phenomenal opportunities that are out there for students if they are flexible, curious, and willing to throw themselves into an exciting new culture and opportunity that could change their life completely.”

Genevieve Crum graduated last year from Notre Dame with her bachelor’s degree and is now a master’s student in the Engineering, Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Master’s Program (ESTEEM). In her words: “At the University of Notre Dame, I have always been encouraged to work hard, to pursue my passions, and most importantly, to be a powerful force for good in the world. Now as a Fulbright student scholar studying gastronomy and food policy in Italy, I have the incredible opportunity to do all three.”

Sean Sapp, a Ph.D. student in the Department in History, had this to say about the process: “As an incoming graduate student, I knew that I needed to win major grants for both practical and professional reasons. Practically, I understood the funding these grants provided was essential for the successful completion of my dissertation. Professionally, I recognized that these accolades would lend significant support to the growth of my career going forward. However, I soon realized that knowing I needed to obtain a grant and writing a successful grant application are two very different things. The workshops, mentoring, and individualized support made available to me by Mike Westrate and his staff in the Graduate School lent me the necessary tools to complete a compelling (and ultimately, successful) application. Thanks to the support of this team, I will be heading to Belgium as a Fulbright student scholar in the fall. I am confident that both my doctorate and my career will benefit greatly from this award.”

Undergraduate students and alumni interested in applying for external awards, including the Fulbright, should visit the CUSE website for more information at cuse.nd.edu/fellowships.

Interested graduate students and alumni should contact the Office of Grants & Fellowships at gradgrants@nd.edu.

Since its inception in 1946, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 360,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential — with the opportunity to exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns. Over 1,900 U.S. students, artists and young professionals in more than 100 different fields of study are offered Fulbright Program grants to study, teach English, and conduct research annually in over 140 countries throughout the world.

For more information about the Fulbright Program, visit http://eca.state.gov/fulbright.

The 28 recipients are:
• Lauren Antosz, Spanish undergraduate student — study and research grant to Chile.
• Elizabeth Baker, history postgraduate student — study and research grant to India.
• Whitney Bellant, psychology and German undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Germany.
• Catherine Brix, literature postgraduate student — study and research grant to Chile.
• Andrea Castonguay, history postgraduate student — study and research grant to Morocco.
• Genevieve Crum, ESTEEM program — study and research grant to Italy.
• Rose Doerfler, Chinese and chemical engineering undergraduate student — study and research grant to Taiwan.
• Raymond Drause, history postgraduate student — study and research grant to Russia.
• Charlie Ducey, English and German undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Germany.
• Aletha Duchene, ACE postgraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Brazil.
• Garrett Fontenot, history postgraduate student — study and research grant to Canada.
• Bridget Galassini, international economics undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Spain.
• Adam Henderson, political science undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Malaysia.
• McKenzie Hightower, English and film, television and theater undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Poland.
• Zachary S. Horne, finance undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to South Korea.
• Ray’Von Jones, sociology and Spanish undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Mexico.
• Savannah Kounelis, neuroscience undergraduate student — study and research grant to Belgium.
• Angela Lederach, anthropology and peace studies postgraduate student — study and research grant to Colombia.
• Joseph Massad, political science and Arabic undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Bahrain.
• Emily Migliore, political science undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Mexico.
• Sean Sapp, history postgraduate student — study and research grant to Belgium.
• Andrew Scruggs, international economics undergraduate student — study and research grant to Jamaica.
• Brandon Sepulvado, sociology postgraduate student — study and research grant to France.
• Christopher Shuck, chemical engineering postgraduate student — study and research grant to Russia.
• Monika Spalinski, Spanish and German undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Germany.
• Luke Wajrowski, philosophy and psychology undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Argentina.
• Kyle Witzigman, political science, Glynn Family Honors Scholar and Hesburgh-Yusko undergraduate student — English Teaching Assistantship to Vietnam.
• Danae Yankoski, history postgraduate student — study and research grant to Canada.

The 10 alternates are: Amanda Bury, Rom. Lang. & Lit.; Evelyn Bauman, Int'l Economics; Prinz Jeremy Dela Cruz, French; Taras Karaulschchikov, History; Kirsten Kozlovsky, Mech. Eng.; Alexandria Kristensen Cabrera, Science-Business; Caitlin O'Connor, History; Lai Sam, Economics; Cesar Soto, English; James Wright, Conducting.

The 10 semi-finalists are: Evan Claudeanos, Philosophy; Cormac Craigie, Management; Deborah Forteza Melo, Literature; Bryce Frentz, Physics; Lauren Fritz, Chem. Eng.;Amber Herkey, Anthropology; Megan Marshalla, PreProfessional; Emily Mediate, Africana Studies; Nichole Riggs, MFA; and Jessica Trinkl, Science-Business.