Fairfield University sets new record with nine Fulbrights awarded this year


A record nine Fulbright Scholarships, the most prestigious international scholarships awarded by the U.S. government, have been awarded to Fairfield University graduates this year, nearly doubling the previous record of five Fulbrights awarded in each of the last two years and in the year 2000.

This year's Fulbright Scholars will study, teach, and conduct research in Germany, where four are headed, and in Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia, China, and Austria.

Several said that their experiences in study abroad programs and their knowledge of a foreign language motivated them to seek the Fulbright, while all credited their faculty mentors, many of whom have conducted research themselves in other countries or are originally from foreign lands.

Michael Davis of Feeding Hills, Mass., who will research the environmental impact of ethanol production in Brazil, spent six months there during his junior year and said, "By leaving your country and taking part in another person's culture, you're disrupting stereotypes and seeing people as they are, which really encompasses the mission of the Fulbright." He said Dr. Edward Dew, professor of politics, who has conducted extensive field research in Surinam in South America, was "fantastic" and provided encouragement "that this project was definitely worthwhile."

Michael will begin law school before departing in March for Sao Paulo, the largest sugar-cane producing region in the country, where he will be at the University of Sao Paulo at the Luis de Queiroz College of Agriculture. He returns at the end of December to pick up his law school studies, after which he wants to commit his efforts to working on a solution to the energy problem.

Kathleen Bakarich of Clifton, N.J., became interested in pursuing a Fulbright while studying in the Honors Program at Fairfield. Under a newly developed Fulbright Track, students conduct research for their Senior Honor Theses in their junior year, making it possible to then use it as a springboard for a Fulbright proposal. After consulting with her faculty advisor and mentor, Dr. Joan Van Hise, Kathleen decided to write her thesis on the political and social factors that affected German accounting after World War II and throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. She plans to do research and take classes in international accounting and European Union business in Frankfurt, home of the European Central Bank. She wants to work eventually in international accounting.

Alicia Zapf of Freehold, N.J., says she was drawn to Austria, the land of her Fulbright, and "specifically the city of Vienna for its legacy in international relations." She has a double major in international studies and German and spent seven months studying in Germany during her junior year. In Austria she will be combining a research project on Austria's role in international politics with an English Teaching Assistantship. Among the faculty who advised her were Dr. Eileen Wilkinson, who had studied in Austria, and Dr. Iris Bork Goldfield, originally from Hamburg, Germany.

"Not only will I be learning through living in Austria," Alicia said, "but I will also be teaching others about my country, customs, and policies. This exchange of ideas, which is the goal of the Fulbright program, I believe, is essential to the practice of international relations today." Following her Fulbright, Alicia looks forward to pursuing a graduate degree and working in international affairs area.

The other Fulbright recipients are:

  • Ceylan Conger from Kensington, Md., a politics major and art history minor , who will do research in Turkey on The Role of Women in the Modern Art Movement;
  • Michael Meehan from Holland, Pa., an economics major, who will research The Finance of Small Enterprises in Germany;
  • Andre Moraes of Monroe, Conn., a finance major, who has an English Teaching Assistantship in Germany;
  • Courtney Pelletier of Westminster, Mass., an art history major, who has an English Teaching Assistantship in Indonesia;
  • Matthew Ryder of Hamden, Conn., a philosophy and individually designed major, who will be in China conducting research on "A Population's Chance for Assimilation Found within the Education of its Children; and
  • Daniel Turco, from Upper Saddle, N.J., an international studies/modern language (German) major, who has an English Teaching Assistantship in Germany.

Dr. Orin Grossman, academic vice president, said he couldn't be prouder of the students who set their goals high and then worked hard to achieve them. "These are very bright, inquisitive students who like a challenge. They are certainly a credit to our university." He also commended the faculty who so generously gave of their time and expertise as the students went through the demanding process and Associate Dean Miriam Gogol, who oversaw the Fulbright process on behalf of the University

Even before Fairfield University was informed of this year's extraordinary class of Fulbrights, the University had had the most Fulbrights among master's granting universities across the country for two of the last three years. Fairfield students have been awarded a total of 53 Fulbright Scholarships in the last 16 years.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on July 14, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 6