Ten students and recent graduates successfully applied, through the Amherst College Office of Fellowships, for scholarships sponsored by the U.S. Department of State that will enable them to live abroad for the coming year. Four of them have received funding from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program to conduct research and/or earn graduate degrees in Ghana, the United Kingdom, Chile and Mexico, respectively. The other six will teach English in Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, Slovakia and Taiwan through Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETAs). (Lauren Lamb ’21 also won an ETA to teach in Taiwan, but she applied through the University of Pennsylvania, where she is earning a master’s degree in education.) An additional five Amherst seniors and young alumni have been chosen as alternates for Fulbright grants.
Ann Guo ’20
In applying for a Fulbright research grant, Ann Guo ’20 wrote that it would “allow me to weave together the tools of anthropology, women’s advocacy and storytelling into an effort that uplifts stories of resilience in the face of trauma.” Guo’s grant will take them to northern Ghana, where women accused of doing harm through witchcraft are exiled from their homes and sent to “witch camps.” With support from faculty at the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies, Guo plans to conduct fieldwork at the Gambaga and Kukuo witch camps and produce an academic paper and a photography project showing how the women living in the camps reclaim and reshape their own identities.
“While at Amherst College, I became indescribably drawn to the work of interpreting humanity,” Guo wrote. They majored in anthropology and trained in advocacy through the College’s Women’s and Gender Center. They have had formative experiences in Istanbul, Turkey, first studying abroad and then working there as a freelance writer and photographer. More recently employed as a reporter on homelessness at Community Solutions in Seattle, Guo’s long-term goals include earning a J.D. and Ph.D.
Kate Redmond ’23
With her Fulbright study grant, Kate Redmond ’23 will pursue an M.A. in education, health promotion and international development at University College London. She intends to conduct “research on current health promotion policies in Rwanda and the role the U.K. and U.S. can play in improving well-being there.” This research will build upon Redmond’s previous work with a Rwandan health NGO called Heart and Sole Action, with which she first collaborated as an outreach coordinator for the student organization Amherst College Health for Humanity.
Redmond is a psychology major, an ultimate (Frisbee) player, a local hospital volunteer and an aspiring medical doctor. Crediting the Amherst course “Being Human in STEM” with sparking an additional interest in educational equity, she writes that she plans to volunteer with the Cardinal Hume Centre as a tutor for underprivileged children during her year in London.
Ella Rose ’23
“Throughout college, my passions for sharks, the outdoors, biology and Spanish have remained an essential part of who I am,” wrote Ella Rose ’23. “My favorite courses have explored topics like fisheries and ecology. I have learned field methods through research and laboratory courses. The Spanish major has given me more tools and vocabulary to talk about Latin America and its people.”
Rose, who majors in biology as well as Spanish, will be able to combine all of these passions thanks to a Fulbright Chile Science Initiative Award. “The continental shelf in southern Chile houses some of the most productive fisheries in the world, but they are threatened by overexploitation, and some have even collapsed,” she explained, and her research project at Universidad de Concepción will examine whether blue whale population sizes can be reliable indicators of how healthy the fisheries are. After her time in Chile, Rose hopes to continue doing marine research while earning a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution.
Camilo Toruño ’21
“Does one cease to be a migrant when they’ve recovered the fundamental right to a secure home?” Camilo Toruño ’21 wrote in his Fulbright application. “What forms does home take in relation to the migrant experience? What does it mean when migrants seek to make their homes in cities with profound housing crises, where the right to shelter is in dispute?” These are the kinds of questions he will explore as he pursues an M.A. in migration studies at Mexico City’s Universidad Iberoamericana. “I will research policy and nongovernmental efforts to provide shelter and/or housing for Central American migrants traveling through Mexico and upon reaching the United States.”
Toruño, who majored in Spanish and English at Amherst, is the son of a Central American migrant. Employed as a bilingual paralegal at the New York Legal Assistance Group, he has spent the past year working with Mexican migrants in a tenant association. In his future, he sees “a doctorate program that will give me greater expertise to continue advocating for migrant rights as well as the option to pursue a career in academia.”
Gabriel Echarte ’23
Also traveling to Mexico will be Gabriel Echarte ’23, a political science major who has received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA). “Importantly, through teaching, I am reinforcing my commitment to an open and free world, one committed to education, exchange, and greater connection,” he wrote, adding that Mexico is an especially meaningful place for him, as his family found refuge there in between fleeing the Cuban Revolution and settling in Miami. A leader of Amherst’s Athletes and Allies chapter, Echarte would like his Fulbright year to include volunteering with local LGBTQ organizations.
Afterward, he plans to return to the United States and complete the yearlong Truman-Albright Fellows Program that is part of the Truman Scholarship he won in 2022. His future goals include attending law school and working for the Department of Justice, “doing my best to make American democracy more just and stable.”
Sika Essegbey ’23
Sika Essegbey ’23 describes herself as “a Ghanaian immigrant who [has] lived in Florida for most of my life” and a “daughter of two polyglots.” Ever since a high school Spanish teacher introduced her class to the Carlos Vives song “La Fantástica,” she wrote, “I have taken advantage of every opportunity to learn about the impact of African and Indigenous communities on Colombian history and culture.” A double major in Black studies and Spanish at Amherst, she will spend a year in Colombia on a Fulbright ETA.
Essegbey has years of experience as a tutor and has completed summer internships with two educational organizations; she intends to work with another one, such as Fundación Terpel, while in Colombia. “After completing the Fulbright grant, I will be attending law school,” she wrote. She is interested in “institutions with strong education law departments, because I would like to continue working towards creating policies that can provide more equitable education opportunities for all students.”
Ryan Kyle ’23
“Weekly discussions about pedagogy with Amherst College’s Education Professions Fellowship cohort have greatly informed my belief in the power of mutual learning,” wrote Fulbright ETA winner Ryan Kyle ’23. Her summer 2022 teaching fellowship was with Breakthrough Miami, and her many other education-related activities have included the Mammoth Mentorship Initiative and Big Brothers Big Sisters. “I am particularly excited to teach in the Uruguayan education system because of the country’s rich history of experimenting with different policies to promote educational equity.” She is also curious to volunteer with Uruguay’s state-sponsored “grandparents’ clubs”—recreational communities for senior citizens.
Kyle is a law, jurisprudence and social thought major from Chevy Chase, Md. “After completing my ETA,” she wrote, “I plan to enroll in a dual-degree program where I will work towards a law degree and a master’s in education policy. This joint degree will allow me to become an effective advocate for children in Washington, D.C., public schools.”
Rachel Rozenfeld ’22
Rachel Rozenfeld ’22 is “an eager student of two languages” and is about to learn a third one. She majored in Russian and Greek and has now received a Fulbright ETA in the Slovak Republic. “I intend to enroll in the Summer School of Slovak Language and Culture Studia Academica Slovaca in Bratislava before the beginning of my Fulbright term,” she wrote, “so as to be able to communicate with my students and my community as effectively as possible.”
As an Amherst student, Rozenfeld was active in the Green Room theater group and worked for the Department of Theater and Dance. In Slovakia, “I hope to leverage my theatrical experience and volunteer my time with a local theatrical community,” she wrote, or “establish an extracurricular club for this purpose, where students can put on all sorts of English and Slovak shows.” An aspiring librarian, she will share her love of American “dramatists like Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Stephen Sondheim, and poets like Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Edgar Allen Poe.”
Vivian Wei ’22
“As an ETA in Taiwan, I will draw from my previous experiences teaching ice skating lessons and tutoring younger students to guide me in the classroom while simultaneously incorporating new techniques such as project-based learning and storytelling,” wrote Vivian Wei ’22. “As an Asian American who has lived in vastly different areas of the United States”—including the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., and a small suburb called Munster, Ind.—“I will bring a more diversified picture of what it means to be American. As an Asian Languages and Civilizations major, I have already been exposed to Sinophone history, art and culture.”
Wei ultimately plans to become a dentist, and believes that her Fulbright experience (following up on the Critical Language Scholarship she received in 2022) will help her “gain the cultural competency to treat patients of various backgrounds.” While in Taiwan, she would like to volunteer with a public health organization or contribute her skills as an emergency medical technician. “As a public transportation enthusiast,” she adds, “I hope to take a trip around the entire island utilizing Taiwan’s extensive train and bus systems.”
Jake Kim ’23
Like Wei, Jake Kim ’23 is an aspiring health care provider whose Fulbright ETA will take him to Taiwan. “I believe teaching is the foundation of medicine, and learning to teach students and patients alike from a variety of backgrounds is essential,” he wrote. “As a student TA, adult student tutor, respite care provider and a clinic manager, I have been privileged to teach and help others, finding great satisfaction in encouraging, motivating and guiding those who struggle while also sharing their successes and failures.” When not teaching English, Kim—a neuroscience major from Newbury Park, Calif.—hopes to volunteer with the Taiwan Root Medical Peace Corps.
“I also intend to use music as a universal language by hosting musical extracurriculars,” noted Kim, who played violin in the Amherst Symphony Orchestra and sang with the Terras Irradient a cappella group. Identifying as “an avid outdoorsman,” he opined that “visiting the forests of Yangmingshan or the gorges of Taroko would be wonderful, but conducting medical care in the wilderness would be a dream.”
“My belief in the need for interchange of many kinds of English came from my family. I grew up among people with varying levels of English who all shared a desire to learn and make their communication clear,” wrote Katherine Chang ’23, an English major also from Newbury Park, Calif. If she receives a Fulbright ETA, her teaching in Thailand will be informed by her years spent tutoring high school students through a program called A Better Chance.
“I am interested in the relationships between Thailand and its neighbors, as well as Thai traditions and the incredible difference between groups of people in Thailand itself,” Chang wrote. She is also curious about the nation’s libraries and literature, its Buddhist monasteries, its athletics, and its ideas about gender and sexuality. After her possible year in Thailand, she plans to attend medical school: “I would like to specialize in medical education and teach future physicians, with the motivation of advocating for health equity in the curriculum and practice while continuing to educate myself.”
Should Melanie Schwimmer ’23 receive a Fulbright grant, she wrote, the “research I perform and the connections I make in New Zealand will allow me to be an instrumental leader in shaping sports as a place of joy and justice.” She would earn an M.Sc. degree in sport, exercise and health at the University of Otago, with a project she has titled “Investigating Legacies for LGBTQ+ Women from FIFA World Cup 2023 in New Zealand.”
“When I arrived at Amherst College, I paired my sports activism and academic interests in history and sociology,” wrote Schwimmer, an American studies major. “The only openly gay player on our field hockey team, I advocated for and secured a pride night where we celebrated queer athletes before our game. I joined our school newspaper, wrote articles about female athletes and pushed the editors to dedicate space to underrepresented stories in sports. … I had developed a driving curiosity for exploring how sport creates inequalities just as it solves them.” In the long term, Schwimmer aspires to work in diversity, equity and inclusion at USA Soccer.
“I hope to establish international connections through physics research with the same sense of togetherness I’ve already achieved through sports,” wrote Will Henshon ’23, whose Fulbright grant would enable him to participate in a particle physics research experiment called LUXE at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Henshon, an Amherst swim team member and water polo team captain as well as a physics and mathematics major, described in his application how he first visited Israel, and made friends with local kids through playing soccer, when his brother competed in the Maccabi Youth Games, which bring together young Jewish athletes from around the world.
Henshon’s Fulbright research would build upon his previous three years of experimental physics research at Amherst College and Duke University. “Upon returning to the U.S., I plan to continue my work on physics research by either pursuing a Ph.D. or a master’s degree in physics,” he wrote.
“My scholarly research draws upon an interdisciplinary range of art and scholarship: Asian American literary critiques, Black modernist visual cultures, and the aesthetics and thought of the Black radical tradition,” wrote Jenna Peng ’18. “This research originates from my undergraduate studies in English and postcolonial Asian theory at Amherst College.” Fulbright support would allow Peng to pursue a master’s degree in contemporary art history at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, focusing on “artistic innovations that engage radical minoritarian politics.” Her proposed course of study would culminate with a thesis about the works of performance artist Adrian Piper.
“I plan to use my position as a Fulbright cultural ambassador by immersing myself in Amsterdam’s robust and diverse art scene and cultural institutions,” Peng wrote. “I will visit Amsterdam’s many museums and galleries, including Stedelijk, Eye Film Museum, No Man’s Art Gallery and Rijksmuseum, to not only experience the forefront of contemporary art but also to connect with artists and curators who drive this front.”
If Julissa Tello ’23 receives a Fulbright ETA in Luxembourg, she will draw upon her experience as a peer tutor in French at Amherst and a mentor to students in a college preparatory program. “I plan to incorporate American news articles from the sciences and social sciences and hands-on activities to get my students excited to discover animal species native to the U.S. and learn vocabulary to describe the ones that they see around them,” she wrote. “I also intend to use games like Catch Phrase and magnetic poetry tiles to help my students feel comfortable and gain confidence with their self-expression.”
A double major in French and biology at Amherst, Tello would like to engage with professors at the University of Luxembourg’s Faculty of Science, Technology and Medicine, in preparation for future work at a developmental biology lab and for pursuing her M.D./Ph.D.