Students, alumnae earn fellowships for post-grad opportunities

On April 10, the College announced that 15 students and four alumnae have been offered Fulbright grants for 2017-2018. This sets a new record for the College for the number of Fulbright recipients in one year. In addition, on Thursday, the College announced that Anna DeLoi ’18 will be awarded the Harry S. Truman scholarship for graduate study in public policy.

The student Fulbright recipients are Hannah Benson, Elizabeth Curtis ’17, Mary Elizabeth Dato ’17, Lane Davis ’17, Peter Hale ’17, Gemma Holt ’17, Olivier Joseph ’17, Chinmayi Manjunath ’17, Juliette Norrmen-Smith ’17, Reidar Riveland ’17, Deanna Segall ’17, Samuel Steakley ’17, Vidya Venkatesh ’17 and Caroline White-Nockleby ’17. The four alumnae recipients are Aseel Abulhab ’15, Samantha Avila ’16, Haley Stewart ’15 and Libby Dvir ’16.

These students and alumnae will participate in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the largest U.S. exchange program that provides students and young professionals the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research abroad for one academic year. Nine of the honorees will receive one-year grants to study or conduct research in their academic fields, and eight will receive English teaching assistantships for teaching abroad.

Three applicants from the College have been designated as alternates, who will receive final decisions later this spring. In addition, one candidate is still waiting to hear from her country commission.

Fellowships Coordinator Lynn Chick said that the College put forward 48 candidates for the Fulbright grant this year. Of those. 31 were “recommended” to advance to the country selection stage.

“The number of awards to students and alumni of the College continues to increase because they are well-prepared applicants,” Chick said. “Their experiences in the classroom, studying abroad for credit or on a summer fellowship, and language study all contribute to a strong Fulbright application. Their professors are generous with advice and support while they are preparing their application which is incredibly helpful.”

The Fulbright recipients plan to spend their year abroad in various ways. White-Nockleby will research geography in Chile. “I’ll be working with a Geography professor on a project that examines the ecological and political history of water tensions in the region between the copper mining industry and indigenous communities – tensions that are due in part to state distribution policies, but which have been further stressed by climate change,” she said.

Curtis received a grant to research public health in India. “‘The year after graduation seemed the perfect time in my life to step out of my comfort zone, take a break from the constant cycle of schooling I’ve been in for the past 17 years, and work towards a more nuanced understanding of the field to which I plan on devoting my life,” Curtis said. “Next year, I will be researching community-based reproductive health programs across rural India with the hopes of better understanding the process of creating sustainable and culturally-appropriate reproductive health care initiatives.”

Holt will continue to research how Arctic institutions can evolve to create sustainable futures, which she starting investigation at for her senior thesis. “I am going to be studying climate change policy at the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi, Finland,” Holt said. “The Fulbright is an amazing opportunity to continue research I’m passionate about while immersing myself in Finnish culture.”

Dato will work as an English teaching assistant in Spain. “After studying abroad in Córdoba, Spain during my junior spring, I wanted to return to continue improving my Spanish and engaging with the vibrant culture,”  Dato said. “I am also interested in working in education policy so having an understanding of another country’s education system will be incredibly useful going forward.”

Norrmén-Smith will teach English in Andorra. “A linguistic amalgamation of Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese and French, Andorra is the perfect place for me to expand my language skills, learn to ski, finally finish writing songs I’ve neglected during college and become comfortable leading a classroom of teenagers,” Norrmén-Smith said. “Upon my return from Fulbright, I will be joining the 2018 Teach For America Corps in New Orleans to teach middle school English, so the Fulbright year will give me valuable teaching experience.”

Hale will spend his year abroad conducting research and teaching English in Germany. “I wanted to take a closer look at the political movements within East Germany and learn what I can about Germany’s role in the European Union,” Hale said. “These are exciting and terrifying times for the EU and Germany’s position at its center. I’m also excited to teach English and speak with Germans about their views on the US and the world.”

Finally, Davis will conduct ecology research in Ecuador.  “I am interested in the role of human management in helping ecosystems adapt to climate change, and I ultimately hope to use my data to assess potential management actions to protect the biodiversity of the reserve,” Davis said.

With the Truman Scholarship, DeLoi plans to pursue a joint degree through the Stanford Graduate School of Education’s Master of Arts/Master of Public Policy (MA/MPP) program to prepare for running a community music education organization in an under-resourced, rural community. She will receive  $30,000 in support for graduate study, in addition to leadership training, graduate school and career counseling, and access to special internship opportunities within the federal government.

“I hope to use the Truman money to expand my knowledge and skills in graduate school so that I can be as effective as possible in creating change in struggling communities,” DeLoi said. “I especially want to get more training in economics and public policy, which I didn’t really do too much at Williams. My ultimate goal is to run one or more community centers that focus on using the arts to bring people together and revitalize rural areas.”

DeLoi is one of 62 recipients chosen from an applicant pool of 768 from 315 colleges and universities. She is the 18th Truman Scholar from the College and was in class when she found out that she had received the prestigious scholarship. “Lynn Chick and Katya King from the Fellowships Office actually came into my psychology class to announce that I won, which was super embarrassing but also really sweet of them. I hadn’t expected to hear anything for a few more days, so it was extra exciting,” DeLoi said.

DeLoi credits her family and mentors for helping her. “My biggest inspirations have been my mom, who brought me up on the arts and allowed me to see how powerful they could be, and my mentor in high school, Linda Gerstle, who directed the education department at the arts non-profit From the Top and is always just tireless in her vision and dedication to everything she does,” DeLoi said. She will receive her award at a ceremony May 28 at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum.