Matthew Ryder of Hamden awarded Fulbright Scholarship to China


 

One of a record-setting 9 Fulbrights at Fairfield University

Image: Matthew RyderMatthew Ryder of Hamden, Conn., has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, the most prestigious international scholarship awarded by the U.S. government, to conduct research in China on the role education plays in a child's ability to overcome urban obstacles. Matthew is one of nine recent Fairfield University graduates selected for the Fulbright, setting a record that nearly doubles the previous record of five. Before this stellar class, the university already held the most Fulbrights among master's granting universities across the country for two of the last three years.

Matthew had a double major at Fairfield in biology and philosophy, and while he thought he was on the path to medical school, philosophy, he says, won over his heart. "I often claim that I changed my course away from medical school because I was disenchanted in the mechanical nature of the hard sciences, but in truth, I believe that I was seduced by the ideas of Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, and many other great German intellectuals."

He went on to study the works of Confucius, Mencius and other Chinese religious leaders and philosophers and created a self-designed major of Chinese studies. This led to his traveling throughout China, including living in Beijing for over six months and working under a Ford Foundation grant at Beijing University. He says, "I exited University with a new and much more unknown path that led only back to China."

The research he plans to do is "a culmination of many of my focuses during undergraduate studies," he says. And while he will be looking at previous work done in the academic field, he hopes to pursue some new avenues of research. Using eight qualitative questions distributed to 6,000 migrant students, their parents, school teachers, and principles living in Beijing, Kunming, and Guangzhou, as well as eight case studies conducted at a migrant enclave found in Beijing, he intends to examine how the migrant children's entrance into State-run schooling affects their daily lives and the roles which they play within the family unit.

Matthew leaves for China in early September and will return next summer.

The other Fairfield graduates awarded Fulbrights this year are:

Kathleen Bakarich, of Clifton, N.J., an accounting major, who will conduct research and take classes in international accounting and European Union business in Frankfurt, Germany;

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 Davis, from Feeding Hills, Mass., who will conduct research in Brazil on the Environmental Impact of Ethanol Production;

Michael Meehan, from Holland, Pa., an economics major, who will research The Finance of Small Enterprises in Germany;

André 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;

Daniel Turco, from Upper Saddle River, N.J., an international studies/modern language (German) major, who has an English Teaching Assistantship in Germany; and

Alice Zapf, of Freehold, N.J., an international studies/German major, who will combine research into Austria's Role in International Politics with an English Teaching Assistantship.

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.

Fairfield University 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 August 4, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 8