UVM Students, Alumni Receive Fulbright Fellowships
- By Britten Elaine Chase
Three University of Vermont students and two recent alumni have been awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholarships. The prestigious awards are fully funded, year-long academic fellowships which enable seniors, recent graduates and graduate students who have an outstanding academic record to live abroad and conduct research or teach English as part of an intellectual and cultural exchange.
“The Fulbright competition has become one of our most successful national fellowship competitions in the past few years,” notes Lisa Schnell, associate dean of the Honors College. “Brit Chase, our Fellowships Coordinator who recruits and advises students interested in the Fulbright competition, has effectively tapped into the rich vein of excellence and commitment to global issues on campus. Year after year, the campus Fulbright committee, which interviews all applicants in the fall, is truly impressed by the depth of the applicant pool.” Schnell also remarked, “We had eleven very deserving finalists this year, and we wish all of them had won Fulbrights, but we’re just thrilled for the five students who did — it’s a very tough competition, and this is a wonderful result.”
James Dopp '10 has been awarded a Fulbright research grant to China for the 2012-2013 academic year. Dopp will be investigating the role of local forest guards in the conservation of black snub-nosed monkeys at Baimaxueshan National Nature Reserve in Yunnan, China. His work will lead to a deeper understanding in Chinese cultural and societal values and how they relate toward conservation policies for endangered species. He will leave for China in October and will be working closely with researchers at the Yunnan Institute of Geography as well as the Yunnan Green Environmental Development Fund.
Dopp is a Chinese major with a strong anthropological background and significant experience in the study of wildlife conservation. After studying abroad on UVM’s Yunnan, China program in the spring of 2009, Dopp returned to UVM and was inspired by an anthropology course on non-human primates. He then took as many anthropology classes as he could until he graduated, and after he completed his coursework he went on to pursue several fieldwork opportunities. In the past couple years Dopp, a Bethesda, Md. native, has returned to China to work with Central Washington University as well as with the San Diego Zoo. During his more recent trips, he has carried out surveys of Guizhou snub-nosed monkey ecology at the Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in Guizhou province, and he also conducted research on the relationship between tourism and Tibetan macaque behavior in Huangshan, China.
Dopp credits his success in the classroom as well as in the field to the mix of anthropology and Chinese language mentors he had at UVM. He says Professors Deborah Blom and Jeanne Shea in the anthropology department were close mentors as he began combining his interest in anthropology with his expertise in China and his passion for wildlife conservation. He also credits Professors John Yin and Diana Sun in the Chinese department, who he says deeply influenced his love of Chinese language and writing. Dopp says Professor Eric Esselstrom in the history department also enabled him to gain a much more fair and sensitive view to Chinese and Japanese history and society.
After he completes his Fulbright research, Dopp plans to attend graduate school for anthropology, where he hopes to continue to research primates and conservation in China and their relation to human culture.
Ryan Peterson '12 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany for the 2012-2013 academic year. He will teach English as well as American government, history and civics, and he will also serve as an adviser to German teachers who teach English.
A Weathersfield, Conn. native, Peterson has a strong affinity for languages. While French has always been his main language of interest (Peterson is a French major, and he spent time in high school and college studying in France), he became curious about the German language and started taking the language during his freshman year at UVM. An outstanding student and a patient teacher (Peterson has tutored refugees and other English language learners in the Burlington area), he decided to pursue Fulbright’s teaching assistantship so he could perfect his language skills while also helping German students get a deeper sense of the English language, American history and culture.
Peterson credits professors Helga Schrekenberger, Adrianna Borra, Lia Cravedi and Jenny Prue for pushing him academically and intellectually while at UVM, as well as supporting him as he applied for the Fulbright this past fall. As a Fulbright Scholar, Peterson will continue to advance his language and cultural competencies, and when he returns to the U.S., he aspires to work in international affairs.
University of Vermont graduate student Mark Russell has also been awarded a Fulbright English teaching assistantship to Germany for the 2012-2013 academic year. He will also teach English as well as American government, history and civics.
Teaching has always been a passion for Russell; he graduated magna cum laude from Shenandoah University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. But during his time at Shenandoah he became passionate about Germany and learning the German language. He ultimately decided that he saw himself as a language teacher, which led him to enroll in UVM’s graduate German program. As a graduate student he is focusing his master’s thesis on studying how music impacts German culture.
Russell is originally from Winchester, Va., and he credits Professor Dennis Mahoney in the German department for pushing and encouraging him to thrive in his language studies and his master’s thesis. As a Fulbright Scholar, Russell will have the chance to perfect his German as well as his teaching, and when he returns to the U.S. he plans to become a German teacher.
Katie Sacks '11 was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Austria for the 2012-2013 academic year. She has been placed in Linz and will be teaching students at both the Peuerbach Bundesgymnasium und Bundesrealgymnasium and Kollegium Petrinum.
Sacks is originally from Ottawa, Canada, and she was an English and Holocaust studies major while at UVM. She credits history professors Alan Steinweis, Jonathan Huener and Francis Nicosia, English professor Lokangaka Losambe and German professor Theresia Hoeck for all the guidance and inspiration they provided while she worked on her application. When she returns from Austria she plans to continue her studies by pursuing a master's degree in Holocaust studies.
Robyn Suarez '12 has been awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Malaysia for the 2012-2013 academic year. She will leave the U.S. in January to teach English in either a primary or secondary school in the states of Terengganu, Pahang, and Johor, and will most likely be placed in a small town or rural area.
Suarez is a Williston, Vt., native, a Patrick Scholar and an Honors College student. Suarez has also been deeply involved in the deaf community in Vermont; she is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and has received recognition from the UVM and local community for the work she’s done as a tutor for hearing-impaired refugee populations. This experience has made learning about different countries’ sign language an important goal for Suarez. After studying abroad in Ireland (where she exchanged lessons in ASL for lessons in Irish Sign Language), Suarez returned to UVM to write her English honors thesis on the social influences of Irish Sign Language. While in Malaysia Suarez also plans to study Malaysian Sign Language (called Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia) as well as how the Malaysian education system accommodates deaf students.
When Suarez returns from Malaysia she aspires to receive a master’s in deaf education. With this degree, she plans to work in a hearing-impaired classroom as an English teacher. She is especially interested in working with a diverse group of students, including immigrant and refugee students who are deaf and need extra help in assimilating to the American school system.
Dopp, Peterson, Russell, Sacks and Suarez are five of more than 1,500 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2012-2013 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 155 countries worldwide.
In addition to the Fulbright Scholarship winners, UVM students or recent alumni this year have also won a Truman Scholarship, a Goldwater Scholarship, a Udall Scholarship, a Boren Scholarship, five Gilman Scholarships, and four Critical Language Scholarships. UVM also had two Truman Scholarship finalists, two students given Honorable Mention recognition in the Goldwater Scholarship competition, two other students who were finalists in the Boren Scholarship competition, and four alternates and three other Fulbright finalists, in addition to the five winners.
Since 2005, when the university put a centralized fellowship outreach and support program in place, 92 UVM students have won or been finalists in the country’s most prestigious and competitive competitions, including the Fulbright, Rhodes, Goldwater, Marshall, Udall, Truman, Madison, Gilman and Boren Overseas scholarships.