Photo: (from left) Emily Sterk, Tina Lee, Angela Nied, Josh Zahren, Adam Robison and Kayla Grey
WASHINGTON, PA (April 24, 2017)—Eight Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students are winners of Fulbright awards for the coming year, a record number for the institution, which in February was recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The program currently awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. W&J’s ranking as a top producer of Fulbright award-winners puts the institution in a grouping traditionally populated with colleges like Amherst College, Bates College, and Oberlin College.
Five W&J seniors and two alumni will take on various projects around the world. A sixth student, Adam Robison ’17, was awarded a U.S. Fulbright Student Grant to Malaysia for an English teaching assistantship, but chose instead to pursue a job opportunity in the United States more closely in line with his goal of teaching mathematics.
“The large number of W&J student Fulbright awards is incredibly significant,” said Michael Shaughnessy, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and International Programs. “This level of recognition is typically seen among the best institutions in the United States and is indicative of W&J’s strong commitment to international education. We are truly proud of these student achievements and look forward to continuing to produce global scholars in the future.”
Student Fulbright advisor and assistant professor of Russian, Susan Vdovichenko, Ph.D., aided students through the application process and is proud to see them succeed.
“I am absolutely thrilled that we have as many grantees as we do, although I am not surprised,” Vdovichenko said. “W&J, with its commitment to study abroad programs and the Magellan [Project], is set up well for this award. Students here reach their senior year with a wide range of impressive experiences, so it’s a matter of making sure students are aware of the award, are able to get the experiences needed to showcase their natural talents, and put together a clear and thorough application.”
“I am first and foremost grateful for the opportunity to explore my Asian ancestry in a deep and profound way where I can give back to the public,” Lee said. “Receiving this award means I can emulate the same passion and patience I’ve seen in my family and community toward cultural education in Taiwan.”
The awardees are:
- Kayla Grey ’17: (Spain, Sept. 2017–June 2018) Grey received a U.S. Fulbright Student Grant to La Rioja, Spain. She will have an English teaching assistantship at the elementary level, and will be teaching social studies, science and technology, art, physical education and English language to students as well as leading English conversation classes with the school staff. Grey previously taught English to third and fourth grade students at the Monteverde Cloud Forest School in Costa Rica. She hopes to work with the animal rights non-profit La Asociacion Protectora de Animales en La Rioja while in Spain.
- Charanya Kaushik ’13: (Colombia, Sept. 2017–June 2018) Kaushik received a U.S. Fulbright Student Grant to Colombia. She will spend the 2017-18 academic year at the public health school of Universidad El Bosque in Bogotá, Colombia, a partner institution of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health, where she currently studies. As part of her project, Kaushik will analyze and improve clinical services for patients of breast, colon, and prostate cancer and work to identify and forge strategic partnerships to improve healthcare delivery. Her goal is to improve healthcare access and quality for underserved populations.
- Tina Lee ’17: (Taiwan, August 2017–June 2018) Lee received a U.S. Fulbright Student Grant to Taiwan. She will have a teaching assistantship with elementary and middle school children, during which she will be an instructor in English language and American culture. Lee hopes to serve as a cultural ambassador by bridging eastern and western experiences both at school and in the surrounding community.
- Jake Meyers ’15: (Cambodia, Sept. 2017–June 2018) Meyers received a U.S. Fulbright Student Grant to Cambodia. He will spend 10 months working with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Ministry of Environment to study the impacts of fires on biodiversity and livelihood resiliency in Prek Toal, a Wetland of International Importance and a bird sanctuary for 10 globally threatened species. Meyers hopes to engage the youth who live on the floating villages of Prek Toal by teaching them English and empowering them to tackle community development challenges.
- Angela Nied ’17: (Germany, Sept. 2017–June 2018) Nied received a U.S. Fulbright Student Grant to Bavaria, Germany. She will have a teaching assistantship where she will be teaching English in a classroom setting and providing assistance to local English teachers for the full academic year.
- Emily Sterk ’17: (Colombia, August 2017–May 2018) Sterk received a U.S. Fulbright Student Grant to Colombia. She will have a teaching assistantship at Universidad Nacional in Bogota, where she will help students learn the English language as well as work to strengthen digital literacy in the surrounding community by hosting public workshops focusing on blogging and other social media platforms. Sterk plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Latin American literature at Pennsylvania State University following her assistantship.
- Joshua Zahren ’17: (Germany, Sept. 2017–June 2018) Zahren received a U.S. Fulbright Student Grant to Germany. He will have an English teaching assistantship at a yet-to-be-determined school to allow him to hone his teaching skills and learn more about the German language and culture.
The grant gives philanthropic scholars the opportunity to thrive.
Meyers is no stranger to public service and is currently volunteering with the Peace Corps in Benin, West Africa as an Environmental Action Advisor for Food Security. He looks forward to embarking on his Fulbright project to continue improving our global community.
“To me, going abroad to Cambodia under the Fulbright program is another way for me to serve my country through cross-cultural exchange. Yes, I will get the chance to reaffirm my academic passions and advance the cause of environmental protection in Prek Toal, but more importantly I get the incredible opportunity to serve as a cultural ambassador under Senator Fulbright’s mission to promote international goodwill,” Meyers said.
Vdovichenko recognized the importance of having W&J students and alumni to have these types of scholarly opportunities.
“[F]or the student, it is an amazing experience that will forever be a part of their lives,” she said. “Having W&J students win Fulbright [awards] just showcases what we here at the College already know: that our students and faculty are stellar, and our educational experience is world class.”
In addition to sending scholars out across the world, W&J will host 24 German Fulbright students on its campus for three weeks this summer.
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.