Four Amherst seniors and two young alumni have been offered Fulbright grants to do independent research, assistant-teach English or pursue a master’s degree abroad in the coming year.
The fellowship is one of the most prestigious in the world, claiming among its alumni 43 Nobel laureates and 78 Pulitzer Prize winners. It operates in more than 155 countries, sponsored by the U.S. government to increase mutual understanding between Americans and citizens of other nations.
Some Fulbright scholars receive grants to conduct research or pursue a one-year master’s degree in a participating Fulbright country or to do some combination of research and course enrollment. Others are awarded English Teaching Assistantships (ETAs) to aid in teaching English and U.S. culture to non-native speakers abroad.
All grantees receive round-trip transportation to the host country, as well as room, board, living expenses and health benefits; some grants also include funding for research, enrichment activities, tuition, language study, pre-departure orientations and training in teaching English as a second language.
One Senior Won a Grant to Pursue Science Research:
Ariella Goldberg ’19, a double major in mathematics & classical languages, has been offered a Fulbright grant to study the effectiveness of plankton species survival traits, a project at the Technical University of Denmark.
“This project addresses questions directly relevant to climate change since plankton are central to the health of marine ecosystems,” she wrote in her application.
After Denmark, she plans to apply to Ph.D. programs in applied math. Longer term, she has set her sights on either a career as a professor or in industry as a biomedical researcher.
Three seniors will be English Teaching Assistants:
Jason Seto ’19 has been offered an ETA in Malaysia. A biology major, Seto later plans to attend medical school, focusing on providing primary care to people in rural communities. He hopes to ultimately return to his native Hawaii, where he can address inequities in healthcare. In addition, he is interested in conducting research about cultural sensitivity in the practice of medicine.
“I believe that empathy is a habit that can be cultivated, and it has been a salient feature of the activities that I have found most meaningful,” says Seto, who last summer volunteered at a wound care clinic associated with a needle exchange program in downtown Honolulu.
Sarah Wagner ’19, an anthropology and environmental studies double major, has been offered an ETA in Spain.
“I plan to teach in an under-resourced school after my Fulbright year,” Wagner says. Her longer-term goal is to earn a master’s in education, homing in on understanding the causes of and solutions to education inequities.
From there, she plans to pursue a career in academia, policy reform or non-profit work.
Eric Zhou ’19 has been offered an ETA in Taiwan. Zhou is a double major in neuroscience and history. Following his Fulbright year, he hopes to work in a hospital before applying to medical school, with the ultimate goal of working in family medicine or pediatrics and earning a master’s in public health.
“I am sure that my ETA experience in teaching children and working cross-culturally will help me become a better listener and a more culturally aware and empathetic individual,” he says.
Andrew Kim ’18, whose Amherst degree is in mathematics and history, has been offered an ETA in Bulgaria.
Following his Fulbright year, he plans to apply to law school to pursue international law. He hopes to work as an in-house counsel for a geopolitical consulting firm, eventually shifting into the foreign service and work as a U.S. diplomat, where his focus would be on strengthening bonds with countries that have high concentrations of ethnic Koreans, especially in Europe and South America.
Ruth Manzanares ’18 has been offered an ETA in South Korea.
An American studies and Spanish major at Amherst, she plans to eventually earn a master’s in international relations and a Ph.D. in education, and then to return to her home state of California to work as a school administrator in Los Angeles. She would like to “implement teaching practices that are more inclusive and accessible for all communities in the area,” she says.
Six others from Amherst are Fulbright alternates. Decisions for these candidates will be made later in the spring.
Marvin Bell ’19E, an anthropology and sociology major, is an alternate for a research grant in France, where he would pursue a master’s in human rights and humanitarian Action at Paris Institute of Political Studies. [UPDATE: Marvin was subsequently offered a Fulbright, but declined.]
Isabella Berkley ’19 is an alternate for a Fulbright study grant to pursue a master’s in nationalism and conflict management at the University of Salamanca in Spain. The project would culminate in a thesis comparing nationalism and identity politics intersect and complicate U.S.-Cuban relations. She is a double major in law, jurisprudence and social thought and black studies.
Rachel Cohen ’19 is an alternate for a research grant in Colombia. Her project, if she is selected, would involve study at the University of the Andes, where she’d investigate how climate change affects soil chemistry and microbiology in the region. She is a biology major.
Katherine Pedersen ’19 is an alternate for an ETA in Benin. A French and political science double major, she would ultimately like to make a career in the U.S. State Department. [UPDATE: she has subsequently been offered a grant as an ETA to Rwanda, where she will be from January through June 2020.]
Brett Sokol ’19 is an alternate for an ETA in Russia. He is a double major in French and Russian, and longterm, he hopes to serve as a diplomat in Russia, or in a Russian- or French-speaking nation.
Joshua Thompson ’17, who has a political science degree from Amherst, is an alternate for Fulbright’s Binational Internship Program in Mexico, which offers the opportunity to intern with a for-profit company or NGO in Mexico City. “Upon returning to the U.S., I hope to find an opportunity with an early-stage company conducting business in Mexico that would benefit from my expertise developed through my internship,” he says.