This spring, College of the Holy Cross students and alumni have won an impressive array of awards from prestigious organizations, including the Fulbright Program, Critical Language Scholarship and NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
These accolades speak to the curiosity, intellect and ambition of Holy Cross students, the outstanding mentoring of faculty and in many cases, the power of the study-abroad experience.
Below, highlights from this year’s group of award winners.
Five members of the Class of 2018 have been awarded Fulbright grants to teach around the world during the 2018-2019 academic year. Since 2005, Holy Cross students have received 97 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, Latvia, Malaysia and Russia.
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:
Joshua DeYoung ’18, of Bow, New Hampshire, will make Spain his home for the next year, where he will work as an English Teaching Assistant in the region of Galicia. A political science and Spanish double major at the College, DeYoung studied abroad in A Coruña, Spain, an experience that cemented his interest in the country — and his desire to go back.
“As I continued in my studies and I found out that I wanted to pursue political science and international relations as well as Spanish, I knew that a prestigious grant like Fulbright would allow me to participate in cultural exchanges and continue to study and experience what I love. While in Spain, I’m aiming to volunteer as a mentor in intercultural exchange programs that facilitate American students studying abroad in Spain as well as Spanish students with hopes to study abroad in English-speaking countries.”
When he returns from his Fulbright, DeYoung plans to enter graduate school in order to continue to study international relations. His long-term goal is to work in diplomacy and U.S.-Spanish relations for the U.S. Department of State.
Isabel Fitzpatrick ’18, of Rockport, Massachusetts, is also headed to Spain. There, Fitzpatrick will teach English to elementary and middle school students on the island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.
A double major in psychology and Spanish, Fitzpatrick studied abroad her junior year in Mallorca, Spain at Universidad de las Islas Baleares. After returning to Holy Cross, Fitzpatrick started to make plans to go back.
An interest in diversity drove her decision. “Education, specifically education that promotes cultural proficiency and nurtures diversity, is liberating and empowering. It’s like finally getting the right prescription glasses you always needed and you can see and appreciate things and people in your surroundings you never saw were there. That’s why I chose to major in Spanish — because I wanted to be educated about another culture and relate to that culture through the native language. I wanted prescription glasses for Spanish and for Spain. So Fulbright is an opportunity for me to switch places; to become the educator on the English language for children in Spain. And to hopefully give these kids their own glasses prescribed for American people and our culture.”
Aside from teaching, Fitzpatrick also harbors interest in another local pursuit: joining a sailing team.
“I love the ocean and I have been a sailor since I was eight years old, so I’m eager to test out the waters in ‘las Islas Canarias.'”
When she returns from her year in Spain, Fitzpatrick plans to pursue a research position that will call on her to communicate with a different group — individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Later, she hopes to attend graduate school to earn a doctorate in Neuropsychology.
Jacob Wronski ’18, of Meriden, Connecticut, will be teaching English at Cherepovets State University in the industrial city of Cherepovets, Russia, ten hours from both Moscow and St. Petersburg.
When Wronski first started at Holy Cross, he had political science on the mind. After taking a Russian class during his first semester, he was captivated, and quickly became a double major in political science and Russian.
“Junior year, I found myself in Moscow for the fall semester, living with a fantastic host mother. I decided I wanted to keep opportunities open during my senior year, and when my professor Olga Partan approached me to apply for Fulbright, I saw a new challenge that would be even greater than the last.”
It’s not just teaching and returning to Russia that Wronski is looking forward to. “I’m interested in participating in the University’s jazz band and volunteer groups on campus, but I’m also interested in teaching some students how to play Frisbee, among other things.” Ultimate Frisbee on the banks of the Sheksna? Sounds supreme.
Martina Umunna ’18, of Lowell, Massachusetts, will be teaching English in a Malaysian secondary school starting in January of 2019.
A history major with minors in Asian studies and studio art, Umunna hopes to combine her experiences in mentoring diverse students and art education with teaching English — not only through conversation but also with Malaysian batik and Islamic arts.
“I had the wonderful opportunity to broaden my knowledge of Asian cultures such as Indonesia and Malaysia through this summer research project. I travelled to Malaysia and Singapore with three other undergraduates to study the colonial histories of ‘pua’ cloths of Sarawak’s Iban people for the exhibition, ‘Woven Power: Ritual Textiles of Sarawak, Malaysia and West Kalimantan,’ at Holy Cross.”
Once she’s completed her Fulbright, Umunna plans to work at a museum, and, later, hopes to obtain a master’s degree in museum studies, so that she can continue to educate diverse publics through different arts and media.
Patty Corey ’18, of Glens Falls, New York, will be headed to Latvia, where she plans to make the classroom an immersive and interactive experience, using pieces of American art, music and literature to teach culture and language.
“I was already exposed to Russian literature and Russian fairytales growing up because of my Latvian grandmother. She actually assigned Leo Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’ as required reading for me when I was 15 years old.”
By the time Corey got back after a seven-month study abroad trip to Moscow, Russia, she immediately knew she was going to apply for a Fulbright grant.
“I wanted to honor my grandmother by going on her cultural journey in reverse. The way to do this is by exchanging my English language skills for a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore a culture I grew up with.”
Princeton in Latin America (PiLA) places highly qualified recent college graduates in year-long service fellowships with nonprofit, public service, humanitarian and government organizations in Latin American and the Caribbean.
Gina Morales-Taveras ’18, a history major with a concentration in Africana Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies from Lawrence, Massachusetts, will be stationed in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. There, she will work with the Dream Project as a student leadership development counselor in the program “A Ganar.”
“The program works specifically to transition adolescent youth into higher education or the workplace. I will also be working as an English teacher in their ‘Esculita de Padres’ (Little School for Parents), as well as working on social media content development and marketing.”
Courses at the College not only solidified Morales-Taveras’ interest in Latin America, but also made her feel more comfortable with her own Puerto Rican and Dominican heritage.
“Despite never wanting to hear that we should straighten our hair, self-identifying Afro-Caribbean women have become accustomed to hearing it. Whenever I decide to wear my hair in its most natural state, my family would ask, ‘Why does your hair look like that? Straighten it.’ I began to ask myself why my “pelo malo” (bad hair) could never be worn out in public. It was through my undergraduate education that I was finally able to bridge my past and my present and find my Afro-identity. A class on the history of the Dominican Republic, ‘Raza e Identidad,’ allowed me to take a look at my past ancestors’ struggles with discrimination, slavery and racism. I found my identity and academic passion in my hair kinks, knots and coils.”
After she’s done with PiLA, Morales-Tovares hopes to stay in Latin America, possibly working at the U.S. embassy in Peru or Colombia.
A program of the U.S. Department of State, the Critical Language Scholarship Program is a distinguished, intensive overseas language and cultural immersion program for American college students. It includes in-depth language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences designed to promote rapid language gains.
Students spend eight to 10 weeks abroad studying one of 14 critical languages, from Azerbaijani to Urdu.
Kevin Schwartz ’18, from Cutchogue, New York, will spend two months this summer studying intensive Mandarin in Xi’an, China, living at Shaanxi Normal University.
“I interned at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in the spring of 2017, where I edited publications and did research for intellectuals pertaining to China’s One Belt One Road global infrastructure initiative. Here, I realized the overlap between my fascination with international politics and passion for language acquisition.”
Throughout the two months, Schwartz will attend 20 hours of classes a week, ranging from one-on-one meetings with an instructor to small group classes with other students. Aside from coursework, Schwartz is looking forward to learning about the history and heritage of Xi’an.
“Xi’an is one of China’s oldest cities, one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals and a crucial hub of the Silk Road of old. So beyond studying the language, I will also have the opportunity to further engage with Chinese history and examine how the city continues to play an enormous role in current economics and politics. As a personal goal, I am also hoping to learn to cook some of the renowned local dishes, a desire I completely neglected my first time living in China!”
Once the program is complete, Schwartz plans to briefly return to the U.S. before heading to National Cheng Kung University’s Mandarin Learning Center in Tainan, Taiwan, where he’ll stay until next May. After that, he’s thinking of graduate school either in the States or Asia.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.
The reputation of the Graduate Research Fellowship Program often helps recipients become life-long leaders that contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize winners, as well as U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu; Google founder, Sergey Brin; and Freakonomics co-author, Steven Levitt.
Taylor Hendershott ’15, of San Jose, California, will have her graduate research funded for three years. After graduating in 2015 with a degree in psychology and concentration in biological psychology, Hendershott spent two years working as a research assistant/lab manager at Stanford Medical School studying cognitive decline in Parkinson’s disease. In the fall of 2017, she started her Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.
“I completed my senior thesis in Professor Alo Basu’s laboratory. Our work examined the cognitive and behavioral effects of environmental enrichment in mice and has been published in Behavioural Brain Research. Working in Professor Basu’s lab was what solidified my desire to go to graduate school and she was the one who first told me about and encouraged me to apply to the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.”
Hendershott is currently working on a longitudinal analysis to identify the earliest predictors of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as writing up results from analyses examining depression in people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“The time and money the fellowship has provided has allowed me to continue studying Parkinson’s disease as well as Alzheimer’s disease. My career goal is to better understand the mechanisms of cognitive decline in neurodegenerative diseases. Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s are the two most common neurodegenerative diseases, and having background in both will help me gain expertise in the field.”
An initiative of the National Security Education Program, Boren Scholarships provide unique funding opportunities for U.S. undergraduate students to study less commonly taught languages in world regions critical to U.S. interests, and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Boren Scholars represent individuals who are interested in working in the federal national security arena. In exchange for funding, Boren Scholars commit to working in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.
Chloe Clougher ’19, from Sandwich, Massachusetts, will study at Peking University in Beijing, China to learn more about the Chinese language, culture and economic development.
A biology and Chinese double major, she is the Wing Commander of the 340th Air Force ROTC Cadet Wing — though joining the Air Force ROTC wasn’t always part of Clougher’s grand plan.
“When I chose to go to Holy Cross, I decided to try out this ‘whole ROTC thing’ after getting a scholarship from the Air Force and talking a lot with my dad, a retired Marine.”
When thinking about what language to take as a first-year student, Clougher chose to continue studying Chinese, which she had started in high school. That’s when her Air Force decision turned out to have quite an unexpected benefit.
“My Air Force colonel called me one day and asked, ‘How would you like to go to China, Cadet Clougher?’ He told me about the opportunity in ROTC called Project Global Officer, a Department of Defense initiative to send cadets and midshipmen abroad to learn about the culture and language of nations critical to U.S. interests. And, he informed me, Project GO had just added an Advanced Chinese initiative. At the end of my first year, I had been given a full scholarship to Beijing for the summer. I came back from China with a fascination for Chinese history, culture, diplomacy, international relations and politics.”
After graduation, Clougher will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force, and she hopes to continue her studies abroad.
“I would love to complete another funded study abroad program like Fulbright before going to training. Ultimately, my dream is to attend graduate school programs for international relations and national security to become a Foreign Area Officer.”
The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad.
In their application, students are required to propose a Follow-On Service Project that will be completed within six months of returning to the U.S.
Michael Morigi ’19, of New York, New York, used the Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Ireland, where he spent his junior year at Trinity College Dublin.
As a double economics and political science major, Morigi continued studies towards his major in Dublin. “It was amazing to have the opportunity to learn about the European Union in a country on the frontlines of the Brexit negotiations and at such a storied institution.”
Now that he’s back in the States, Morigi is focusing on his follow-on project just a stone’s throw from campus.
“I am in the process of designing an informational campaign highlighting the various study abroad and scholarship opportunities provided by the State Department and other organizations. I intend to target this campaign mostly towards Worcester high school and college students. Given the great diversity in the city, it seems like a no-brainer to tap into the area’s international potential.”
Post-graduation, Morigi dreams of a career as a foreign service officer working in diplomacy — and he has a solid head start.
Victoria Breese ’19 of Killington, Vermont, used her Gilman Scholarship to study abroad in Oxford, England. There, she spent her junior year at the University of Oxford.
A political science and psychology double major, Breese applied for a Gilman Scholarship as soon as she was accepted to study abroad. “Many students worry about being able to afford tuition while studying abroad, including me. The Gilman made it financially possible for me to study at the University of Oxford, which I’ve always dreamed of.”
For the service aspect of the scholarship, Breese will lead a Gilman informational session in the fall with Anthony Cashman, director of the Office of Distinguished Fellowships and Graduate Studies.
“The session will take place when sophomores are deciding whether or not to apply to study abroad. I will answer questions about the scholarship and give application advice. I hope that the info session encourages students who are hesitant to go abroad due to financial reasons.”
Breese was also awarded a Mingos Charter Scholarship from her college within the University of Oxford, St. Edmund Hall. “This scholarship is designed to assist students from the United States who already receive U.S. federal funding but need financial assistance in order to study at St. Edmund Hall. The scholarship is funded through Oxford University alumni who are from the United States.”
After graduation next spring, Breese plans to attend law school.
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