Eleven Amherst students graduating this month have been offered Fulbright grants to do independent research, teach English or pursue a master’s degree abroad next year.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is one of the most prestigious grant programs 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 students receive grants to conduct research or pursue a one-year master’s degree in a participating 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 nonnative 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.
Because the U.S. State Department has issued a global advisory urging U.S. citizens to avoid international travel, current Fulbrights were called home earlier this year, and the advisory has postponed most of the new batch of grants until Jan. 1, 2021.
Emilie Flamme ’20, who is graduating from Amherst with a degree in architectural studies and Russian, hopes to study multiculturalism and religion within Islamic communities in Tomsk, Russia, interviewing residents about nationalism, religion, piety and Russian society.
“Ultimately, this work seeks to engage deeply with populations largely overshadowed by more global sociopolitical concerns around Russia and its sphere of influence,” she wrote in her application.
Following her Fulbright year, Flamme intends to attend graduate school for a master’s degree in urban planning history and theory and a subsequent Ph.D. in socio-legal studies. She said she hopes to “become a scholar in critical legal geographies, a field of legal studies that concentrates on the physical effects of law.”
Ryan McMillan ’20, who is graduating with a degree in physics and biophysics, has been approved for a Fulbright grant to study DNA origami --folded single-strand DNA molecules-- at the Technical University of Munich, Germany.
“DNA origami nanostructures have been proposed as next-generation drug delivery vessels,” McMillan wrote in his application. “To enable successful delivery, however, researchers must first identify methods of both increasing the structures’ thermodynamic stabilities and decreasing their molecular permeabilities.”
His proposal would have him working in Professor Hendrik Dietz’s lab, evaluating protamine as a stabilizing agent for these nanostructures.
McMillan plans to later enter a Ph.D. program and pursue research in experimental biophysics. He ultimately would like to split his time between teaching, research and mentoring the next generation of researchers.
Nine Seniors Will Be English Teaching Assistants
Camille Blum ’20, a triple major in Russian, history and math, has been awarded an English Teaching Assistantship in Russia.
“I look forward to experiencing Russian culture, specifically the Russian classical music that I have thus far only heard in American contexts. I also want to learn more about how ordinary people have experienced political and economic shifts in recent decades,” she said in her application.
After her Fulbright year, she hopes to complete both law school and a master’s degree program in international relations.
“I plan to focus on the politics of the former Soviet Union, as well as economics,” and eventually pursue a career in the U.S. Department of State, she said.
Gregory Carroll ’20, a mathematics and philosophy major, has been awarded an ETA in Germany.
He looks forward to adding onto the kinds of experiences he had on campus tutoring in English, German, math, philosophy and American history.
He said he’s particularly interested in learning High German and other dialects, and starting an extracurricular English conversation group at the school to which he is assigned, to discuss parallels between American and German history and culture.
Carroll said he still is undecided on plans after the Fulbright, and is considering a career as either a teacher of English or a math professor.
“As a child of immigrants, language has always been important to me,” Tara Guo ’20, an American studies major, wrote in her successful Fulbright application. “By pursuing an ETA in Taiwan, I envision myself deepening my passion for global educational advocacy.”
She plans to continue studying Mandarin at a local university, while frequenting the local art and music scenes.
Upon her return to the United States, she plans to apply to law school and focus on civil rights or immigration law. “I intend to devote my career to serving immigrant and minority communities that do not have the resources or support to navigate legal bureaucracies,” she wrote.
Emily Kwon ’20 has also been awarded an ETA to teach in Taiwan.
“I aspire to be a better educator,” said Kwon, who taught English in China for summer programs in 2018 and 2019. Her hope is to connect with the Christian community in Taiwan, and explore the country’s food scene—“to eat Din Tai Fung’s famous soup dumplings and sample black pepper buns at the night markets” and share her knowledge of American baking.
A neuroscience major at Amherst, she intends to resume her work in that field following her Fulbright year, pursuing a neuroscience research assistant position. She plans to later apply to medical school and participate in a medical rotation in either Beijing or Taiwan.
Hapshiba Kwon ’20, an English major, has received an ETA to teach in Indonesia.
She hopes to engage with Indonesian communities through outdoor activities like hiking and biking, and by taking cooking classes. Kwon expressed an interest in learning about Indonesian pop culture and the global media’s influence on the culture.
“As an English instructor, I am interested in exploring how teaching language Westernizes other cultures and impacts populations’ views of America and their own country—issues that feel crucial to investigate as a cultural ambassador,” she said.
After her Fulbright year, she plans to apply to English Ph.D. programs, with the intent of becoming an English professor and focusing on creative writing, film studies or digital humanities.
Elizabeth Parsons ’20, who is graduating with a degree in biology, has been awarded an ETA to teach in South Korea.
“I admire South Korea’s emphasis on a comprehensive teaching style and intend to combine technology, structured activities and creative assignments to teach English in a multifaceted manner,” she wrote in her application.
Following her Fulbright, she plans to work at a nonprofit health care agency for a year before applying to a master’s program in public health. Ultimately, she wants to become a health educator specializing in child growth and development.
Marco Trevino ’20 has been offered an ETA in Spain. An American studies major, he said he looks forward to immersing himself in Spanish culture as a way of further understanding his own Hispanic identity, and he plans to be involved in community service.
Following his Fulbright, he intends to pursue a career in education in underserved communities along the U.S.-Mexico border—“communities I call home,” added Trevino, whose family hails from the Rio Grande Valley. He plans on enrolling in a graduate program that will further his experience teaching in bilingual classrooms.
Isabella Weiner ’20, who is majoring in English and French, has been awarded an ETA placement in Luxembourg.
“Having been exposed to Francophone culture from an early age through my travels to France (including attending French day camps and sleep-away camps) and years of formal study, I now am eager to learn about Luxembourg’s fascinating blend of French and German culture,” she wrote in her application.
Following her Fulbright time, she plans to pursue a law degree and a career as a lawyer involved in cross-cultural affairs and human rights. She hopes to write about her experiences in a journalistic setting.
Bijan Zojaji ’20, an economics and philosophy major, has received an ETA to teach in Colombia.
A first-generation college student who worked as a mentor in Amherst’s Office of Admission, Zojaji looks forward to bonding with students as a soccer coach.
Upon returning to the U.S., Zojaji hopes to complete a master’s degree in education at the University of Pennsylvania while holding a teaching position through its school of education’s independent school program.
Update: July 14, 2020
Samuel Chen ’17, who graduated from Amherst with a degree in anthropology, was awarded a research fellowship from Fulbright.
He plans to pursue a master’s degree in science, specializing in health economics, policy and law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He intends to look at how certain proposed health care reform initiatives might fare in the United States, by comparing them to similar policies in Europe.
Chen would later like to return to his hometown of New York City to work with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal health care reform proposals, with his sights set ultimately on the national level.
Chen is the first Amherst alum in recent memory to win two Fulbrights, having previously served as an English teaching assistant in Indonesia.
Update: Sept. 8, 2020
In her application, Boynton wrote of her hopes to teach baseball or softball to her students: “As it is the quintessential American sport, I would use baseball to teach American culture and history, as well as to develop important skills such as teamwork, leadership, and community.”
Her long-term plan is to apply for a teacher residency program to allow her to work towards a master’s degree in education while acquiring classroom experience.
A history and French major, Boynton said she aspired to “teach history to diverse groups of students who have not traditionally been provided proper educational opportunity.”
Two others from Amherst are Fulbright alternates.
Griffin Lessell ’20 has been named an alternate ETA. Should he be placed, would like a position in Mexico.
An English and political science major, Lessell hopes to pursue a career in diplomacy or international relations after college.
Olivia Moehl ’20, who is graduating with a degree in geology, is on the alternate list, with plans to pursue a two-year master’s degree in petroleum geosciences at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, under Professor Per Terje Osmundsen.
Following graduate school, Moehl plans to work as a national park ranger and to pursue a doctorate in geology in an area broadly related to climate change.
“I hope to eventually become a professor or environmental teacher, and use my understanding of earth systems to mentor and educate others on the importance of protecting the planet,” she said.