Thirteen members of the Class of 2017 and one member of the Class of 2016 have been awarded Fulbright grants to teach and conduct research around the world during the 2017-18 academic year. Since 2005, Holy Cross students have received a total of 92 Fulbrights, placing the College consistently among the nation’s top producers of Fulbright scholars at the undergraduate level.
This year’s recipients are headed to Spain, the Philippines, Morocco, Taiwan, Ireland, Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, Greece, Nepal, and South Africa.
The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and established in 1946, is widely recognized as the most prestigious international exchange program in the world. The highly competitive grants are awarded on the basis of academic merit and professional promise.
Each year approximately 1,900 grants are awarded through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which offers opportunities for students and young professionals to undertake international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching in more than 140 countries worldwide.
This year’s recipients are:
Haylie Butler ’17, of Rossmoor, Calif., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain, where she will be teaching English to high school students in the region of Galicia. In addition to teaching, Butler hopes to pilot an afterschool mentoring program in STEM, which will mirror her work at Holy Cross as the founder and chair of XCHROM, an organization that empowers young women in science in underprivileged communities. Butler, a Spanish and biology double major in the Health Professions Advising Program, spent the summer and fall of 2015 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and the spring of 2016 in Costa Rica through Holy Cross’ study abroad program.
Following her Fulbright, Butler plans to pursue a year-long research position in the United States or work for a public health nonprofit in South America through a Princeton in Latin America Fellowship, for which she is a finalist. Her long-term goals include attending medical school to obtain a joint M.D./M.P.H. and complete an OB/GYN or pediatrics residency with a fellowship in neonatology or maternal fetal medicine.
While at the College, Butler served as the lead organizer for the inaugural Women in Science Day; was involved with genetics research under the guidance of Geoffrey Findlay, assistant professor of biology; and was a STEM+E tutor. She was also the founder and chair of the Holy Cross figure skating club; a leader for the Nicaragua immersion program after previously traveling to El Salvador on an immersion trip; a member of the women’s varsity volleyball team; and served as secretary for Students for Responsible Choices.
Timothy Gardner ’17, of Worcester, Mass., has been awarded a Fulbright Study/Research Award to the Philippines. Gardner, a biology major with minors in environmental studies and studio art, will survey and analyze the migration patterns of breeding populations of humpback whales off of the Babuyan Islands in Cagayan for the first three months of his award. He will then stay at a field research station in Jagna, Bohol, where he will write a scientific article on his study and, if time permits, a marine protected area proposal. In addition to his research, Gardner will volunteer in the local community, running art and science classes for children based around marine organisms.
Following his Fulbright, Gardner hopes to become a marine scientist and be involved in policy-making.
At Holy Cross, he served as co-chair of the Student Art Society; was a member of the Hanify-Howland Memorial Lecture committee; and worked as a consultant in the Writer’s Workshop.
Hildie Hoeschen ‘17 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain. She will be supporting teachers in English teaching classrooms at CPC San José in Logroño, the capital city of Spain’s La Rioja province. As a sociology major in the Health Professions Advising Program at Holy Cross, Hoeschen focused her studies on medical sociology and anthropology, with a specific interest in women’s health and maternity care.
On campus she was involved with a number of organizations, including Students for Responsible Choices (SRC), CABA, and XCHROM, and was on the steering committee for the inaugural Holy Cross Women in Science Day.
Alexander Kochenburger ’17, of Storrs, Conn., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Morocco where he will be teaching English at a Moroccan university. While there, Kochenburger plans to give presentations on topics related to the United States and the English language, participate in cultural events, and enroll in language courses to continue his study of Arabic. An international studies major with a focus on the Middle East, Kochenburger returns to Morocco since being awarded a competitive Critical Language Scholarship, which allowed him to participate in an intensive Arabic language program in Morocco during the summer of 2015.
After completing his Fulbright, Kochenburger plans to enroll in a master’s program in foreign affairs/Middle Eastern studies, with the hopes of eventually working for the U.S. government on Middle Eastern policy.
While at Holy Cross, Kochenburger participated in the Washington Semester Away Program, through which he interned with the U.S. State Department and won the Mauricio Vannicelli Award for his thesis on the Syrian refugee crisis. He also volunteered as a greeter in liturgical ministries on campus, participated in Student Programs for Urban Development and club and intramural sports.
Catherine Leeber ’17, of New Canaan, Conn., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Spain, where she will be teaching English in a secondary school in the region of Galicia. In addition, she will be working on a project to help bring American culture to her community. Leeber, who will be returning to Spain since spending the fall of 2016 in Coruña, is a Spanish major, education minor and a member of the Teacher Education Program (TEP).
Through TEP, Leeber had the opportunity to student teach in a middle school Spanish classroom. She hopes to become a Spanish teacher in public schools and pursue a master’s degree in education after completing her Fulbright. Leeber looks forward to the additional teaching experience and exposure to the Spanish language and culture she will gain through Fulbright.
At Holy Cross, Leeber was a member of the Purple Key Society; a campus tour guide for the admissions office; the publicity coordinator for the Autism Awareness Club; and involved with liturgical ministry. She also volunteered at several elementary schools through Student Programs For Urban Development and assisted with English as a Second Language classes through the Donelan Office of Community-Based Learning.
Holly Nord ’17, of Killingworth, Conn., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Taiwan. She will teach English to elementary or middle school students in Taitung, a city in southeast region of the country. Nord, a political science and Chinese double major, will also serve as a cultural ambassador while there.
Following her Fulbright, Nord hopes to work for a nonprofit in the education or affordable housing sector.
At Holy Cross, Nord served as the chair of the intellectual life committee for the Student Government Association senate; the Student Programs For Urban Development program director for Let’s Get Ready, a nonprofit organization that provides SAT preparation to low-income high school students; was a member of Dance Ensemble; and a trip leader for the Spring Break Immersion Program.
Sean O’Rourke ’16, of Wakefield, R.I., has been awarded a Fulbright Study/Research Award to Ireland where he will be studying in the Irish Writing and Film Master’s Program at University College Cork. Having graduated from Holy Cross with a degree in English, O’Rourke currently serves with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Houston, Texas at Community Family Centers, where he provides educational services to low-income families.
O’Rourke hopes to teach literature upon his return to the United States.
While at Holy Cross, O’Rourke volunteered through Student Programs For Urban Development, tutoring at the African Community Education Program and co-founded the Holy Cross Creative Writing Club, serving as its vice president.
Khorally Pierre ’17, of Cambridge, Mass., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Mexico. Pierre is an English and Spanish double major.
Following her Fulbright, she hopes to eventually practice immigration law and found an English as a Second Language nonprofit for youth migrants.
During her time at Holy Cross, Pierre served as the president and former community liaison for the Caribbean African Student Assemblage; was a Multicultural Peer Educator; played on the club basketball team; served as secretary of Holy Cross’ chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society; and was a tour guide for the recent Cantor Art Gallery exhibition: Last Frontier / Última Frontera: La Subjetividad del Territorio.
Samantha Speroni ’17, of Redondo Beach, Calif., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Thailand where she will teach English to students in primary or secondary school. Speroni is a psychology major and a neuroscience minor.
After returning from her Fulbright, she hopes to attend medical school.
At Holy Cross, Speroni was a captain on the women’s varsity track and field team and served as a research assistant for Alo Basu, assistant professor of psychology.
Luke Thompson ’17, of Greenville, R.I., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Taiwan. Thompson, a Chinese and political science double major, will teach English to students in Kinmen, located in the Fujan province of Taiwan.
Thompson plans to attend graduate school for international relations and continue studying Chinese after completing his Fulbright.
At Holy Cross, Thompson served as a tutor for African refugees through Student Programs For Urban Development, which he cites as part of his decision to apply for the assistantship.
Caroline Tibbitts ’17, of West Hartford, Conn., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Malaysia where she will teach English to Malaysian children. Tibbitts, an international studies major with a concentration in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, hopes to become involved in the schools extracurricular activities and to start an empowerment club for her female students.
During her Fulbright, Tibbitts hopes to explore what she wants to do professionally after the assistantship, keeping in mind what she has fostered at Holy Cross: a desire to live a life for others, particularly advocating for women and girls.
On campus, Tibbitts participated in multiple domestic and international immersion programs, serving as a leader for a Spring Break Immersion Program trip and co-leader of an immersion trip to Haiti. Additionally, she served as a Community-Based Learning intern and a summer, fall and international orientation leader through Gateways orientation. Tibbitts spent her junior year studying abroad in Bologna, Italy.
Mary Kate Vanecko ’17, of Chicago, Ill., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to South Africa where she will be teaching English to high school students. While there, Vanecko will give presentations on topics related to the United States and the American government, help with sports and extracurriculars, and hopes to coach boxing with Boxgirls South Africa.
A political science major with a concentration in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, Vanecko hopes to pursue a career in public service after completing her Fulbright.
At Holy Cross, Vanecko was a member of the College Honors Program; a Charles Carroll Fellow; the lead community organizer for the Student Program for Urban Development; the chair of the student outreach and advocacy committee for the Student Government Association senate; a secretary for Women’s Forum; and served as a teaching assistant for GED classes in Worcester Public Schools. Vanecko spent her junior year studying abroad at Trinity College in Dublin.
Melody Wauke ’17, of Athens, Ga., has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Greece, where she will be teaching English to Greek students at the Hellenic American Educational Foundation in Athens. A classics major, Wauke returns to Greece since participating in a semester-long study abroad program in Athens during her junior year.
After completing her Fulbright, Wauke will be attending the University of Notre Dame to pursue a master’s degree in classics. She will then decide whether to continue on to pursue a Ph.D. or teach Latin at the high school level.
At Holy Cross, Wauke served as the president of Holy Cross’ chapter of Eta Sigma Phi, the national classics honor society; the vice president of the Manuscripts, Inscriptions and Documents club; was a senior interviewer in the admission’s office; and a member of the Chamber Orchestra and Classics Student Advisory Committee.
Andrew Weller ’17, of Cincinnati, Ohio, has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Nepal. In addition to teaching English to his students, Weller hopes to volunteer in a clinic or visit hospitals to learn how medicine is practiced in Nepal.
Weller, a chemistry major in the Health Professions Advising Program and a member of the College Honors Program, plans to attend medical school after completing his Fulbright. He hopes to incorporate international medicine into his professional career, an interest that developed during a Holy Cross immersion trip to Haiti where he had the opportunity to interact with Haitian and U.S. healthcare providers.
On campus, Weller was a mentor in the First-Year Research Advancement Program; co-chair of the Spring Break Immersion Program; and a Student Programs For Urban Development program director for Plumley Village, an elementary after-school tutoring site, and Let’s Get Ready, a nonprofit organization that provides SAT preparation to low-income high school students.
Two members of the Class of 2020 have been invited to attend U.K. Summer Fulbright Institutes during the summer of 2017.
Through these institutes, U.S. undergraduates with at least two years of undergraduate study left to complete attend a three or four week academic and cultural summer program at a highly regarded U.K. university. Students explore the culture, heritage and history of the U.K. and develop their academic abilities by improving their presentation, research and communication skills. The award covers the cost of each participant’s airfare, accommodations, and tuition and fees at the host university.
Katherine Lovell ’20, of Hanover, N.H., has been chosen to attend a Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute at Durham University in the U.K. One of six students selected to attend the institute, whose theme is “The Northern Borders of Empire to the Making of the Middle Ages,” Lovell will participate in excavations and standing building recording on sites along the northern edges of the old Roman frontier, gaining first-hand knowledge and experience of U.K. archaeological professional practice. The institute will feature on-site seminars and workshops with experts that will explore cutting-edge concerns in archaeology and cultural history.
At Holy Cross, Lovell is considering pursuing a major in international studies or political science and minors in art history and education. Looking ahead, she hopes find a career that incorporates her passions for art history, education and public policy.
On campus, Lovell serves as secretary of her residence hall’s House Council and is a member of Partners in Action and the women’s varsity rowing team. Next year, she will serve as a student ambassador for Arts Transcending Borders.
Matthew Pinder ’20, of Peachtree Corners, Ga., has been chosen to attend a Fulbright U.K. Summer Institute at the University of Sussex in the U.K. One of eight students selected to attend the institute, whose theme is “Britishness and British Culture,” Pinder will have the opportunity to explore the seaside city of Brighton, known for its mix of beach, pier, markets, art, activism, politics and music.
Pinder, who is a music major in the Health Professions Advising Program and a Brooks Scholar in piano and viola, looks forward to his time in Sussex, where many of the composers whose music he plays lived and composed monumental works. Pinder hopes to eventually become a medical doctor.
At Holy Cross, Pinder is a member of the Chamber Music, Chamber Orchestra, Schola Cantorum, and Society of Saints Peter and Paul.
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