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Record number of students at Illinois awarded Fulbright Scholarships

5/24/2010| Jeff Unger,

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – A record number of University of Illinois students and recent graduates have been awarded scholarships by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program for the 2010-2011 academic year. Three other candidates have been named alternates in the competition.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the program awards about 1,700 grants annually to U.S. citizens for use in more than 150 nations. The program is intended to promote cross-cultural interaction and mutual understanding through engagement in the host community on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity and intellectual freedom.

Grants are awarded in all fields of study, allowing recipients to design their own program and pursue one academic year of study or research. In addition, Fulbright English teaching assistantships are available to more than 50 nations. Fulbright grants generally provide funding for round-trip travel, living expenses for one academic year, health and accident coverage and full or partial tuition.

Fulbright selection committees rate candidates based on their academic or professional qualifications; the validity and feasibility of the applicant’s proposed project; evidence of maturity, motivation and adaptability to a different cultural environment; and the impression a candidate will make abroad as a citizen representing the United States.

“We are extremely proud that our Illinois Fulbright recipients have been awarded funding both to carry out their carefully crafted studies abroad and to act as cultural ambassadors for our school, state, and nation,” said David Schug, co-director of the National and International Scholarships Program at Illinois.

“Our Fulbright awardees and alternates came from a range of different departments and schools here at Illinois – we have a dancer, an architect and a neuroscientist,” said Laura Hastings, the other co-director of the U. of I. program. “Next year will find Illinois recipients carrying out their projects all over the world.”

Students selected to receive awards:

  • Ryoji Amamoto, of Inverness, Ill., has been offered a Fulbright grant to Switzerland. After earning his bachelor’s degree in clinical neurobiology in May, he will spend next year at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne involved in research examining viral gene delivery in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease. He plans to pursue a doctorate in neuroscience.

  • Jacob Baum, of Ada, Mich., a doctoral student in early modern European history, was named an alternate in the Fulbright competition. He has proposed spending a year examining the relationship between sensory perception and religious practice in Germany in the late 15th and 16th centuries.

  • Erik Connelly, of Schaumburg, Ill., has been awarded a Fulbright grant to teach English at the secondary grade level in Korea. Connelly, a May 2010 graduate, majored in integrative biology with minors in Spanish and East Asian languages and cultures. He aspires to a career of research and educating people about conservation issues.

  • Kristen Ehrenberger, of Champaign, Ill., was offered a Fulbright grant to Germany to explore ideas about the medical, social, and political ramifications of state encouragement of nutrition in early 20th-century Germany. Ehrenberger is a joint M.D. and Ph.D. student in medicine and history who will be integrating her findings into her dissertation. Ehrenberger plans a career teaching medical or German history and practicing pediatrics.

  • Samuel Ero-Philips, of Minneapolis, earned his masters in architecture at Illinois in 2009 and will carry out projects in Nigeria with a Fulbright grant. He will spend his year in Ogun State constructing a mixed-use educational facility. He seeks to connect Nigerian university students and villagers by investing in sustainable ways to build with adobe brick and bamboo and to address rainwater runoff using landscape architecture.

  • Paul Hartley, of Las Cruces, N.M., will investigate how musical films contributed to forming and maintaining Turkish national identity between 1950 and 2001. He will incorporate this research from his Fulbright year in Turkey into his dissertation. Hartley, a doctoral student in musicology, also has experience as a professional orchestral clarinetist and performer of Balkan music. Hartley will pursue a career in academia.

  • Holly Holmes, of Stevens Point, Wis., will spend her Fulbright grant year conducting field research in Brazil, tracking the evolution of the musical movement “Clube da Esquina” during the military dictatorship in the 1960s until the return to democracy in the 1980s and 1990s. An accomplished jazz vocalist, Holmes will use connections from previous professional music tours in Brazil in gathering this research toward her doctoral dissertation in musicology.

  • Jun Sung Hong, of Apple Valley, Calif., is a doctoral student in social work and has been offered a Fulbright grant to South Korea. He will spend his year researching South Korean perceptions of peer victimization among children in school. He believes that with South Korea’s sustained increase in immigration rates, there is an interest in how these immigrant children are adjusting to peer conflicts, or bullying, in the education system. After completing his doctorate, he hopes to find a faculty position at a university.

  • Justin Jach, a freelance videographer working in Chicago, has been named an alternate for a Fulbright grant to Brazil. Jach graduated in May 2009 with a bachelor’s in fine arts in painting and proposed to spend his year making a documentary film that examines Brazilian graffiti as a mode of social communication.

  • Anthony Jerry, of San Diego, will use his Fulbright grant in Mexico to gather dissertation research on how African descendants of Mexico’s southern Pacific coast confront contemporary processes of racialization and strategically participate in processes of racial formation and transformation to bring about social and material gains. He is a doctoral student in anthropology. Ultimately as a professor, Jerry also plans to continue his work with a nonprofit organization he founded using arts and media in minority youth empowerment.

  • Rachel Kimnach, of Montgomery, Ill., will be spending the 2010-11 academic year as a Fulbright scholar teaching English to middle school students in Germany. A graduate student in the communication, Kimnach earned a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in communication and German in December 2009 after transferring to Illinois with an associate’s degree from Waubonsee Community College. The Fulbright will provide her first overseas experience. Kimnach is interested in professional translation, interpreting, and the historical linguistics of sign language.

  • Ryan Kimura, of Chicago, has been named an alternate to pursue a master’s degree at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Colorno, Italy. Kimura graduated from Illinois in 2006 with joint degrees in business administration and psychology, and has been active in the slow food movement through his volunteer activities in Chicago since 2007.

  • Timothy Landry, of Houston, will travel to Benin to explore the interactions that occur between local religious practitioners of Vodun and international tourists. Landry is a doctoral candidate in anthropology. He has published in his field and has language training in French, Fon, Haitian Creole, and Portuguese.

  • Dustin Lovett, of Edwardsville, Ill., was granted a Fulbright award to study the cultural interactions that affect the reception and quality of translation at the University of Vienna. After spending a year studying abroad as an Illinois undergraduate in Vienna, Lovett earned a translation internship with Dalkey Archive Press. A May 2010 Illinois bachelor’s degree recipient in comparative literature, Lovett hopes to improve the overall quality of translation of German-language authors in the U.S. as a freelance translator.

  • Donnie Robinson, of New Orleans, will be spending the 2010-11 academic year teaching English in Turkey under a Fulbright grant. He will be teaching U.S. culture and English to university students. A May 2010 graduate, Robinson earned his bachelor’s and master’s in German at Illinois. With facility in American Sign Language, French, German, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish, Robinson hopes to promote cultural integration and diplomacy with his translation skills.

  • Renata Sheppard, of Falcon Heights, Minn., earned a master’s of fine arts in performance and choreography in 2007 and has been offered a Fulbright grant to Italy for next year. While choreographing for the theater department, Sheppard began working in the computer science lab with teleimmersive environments, a virtual reality system that allows two people in separate locations to interact in real time. She will work with multimedia artists at Milan’s Studio Azzurro to create a technology-based collaborative, interactive, choreographic installation. Sheppard hopes to establish herself as an international media artist specializing in movement-based interactive design.

  • Eva Shiu, of Skokie, Ill., has earned one of only two English teaching assistantships to Cameroon. She graduated in May 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a minor in French. Shiu previously studied in Senegal and spent a summer teaching English in Kyrgyzstan. She envisions carrying out work related to international development and healthcare.

  • Victoria Svazas, of Glen Ellyn, Ill., will spend the upcoming year on a Fulbright grant teaching English to German middle school students. Svazas earned a bachelor’s degree with highest honors in elementary education with a concentration in German in May 2010. She is an active leader in the Girl Scouts who enjoys using art in her community outreach. Svazas is dedicated to becoming an elementary or middle school teacher of science or German.

  • Emma Swift, of Crawfordsville, Indiana, has earned a Fulbright English teaching assistantship to Vietnam. Swift will teach English and organize language-related cross cultural student activities at Quy Nhon University. She also will explore the recent expansion of Vietnam’s higher education system. Swift, who earned her bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish from Illinois, also is a May 2010 master’s of education graduate in educational organization and leadership. Concurrently, she has been employed as an assistant director in the Illinois Office of International Student and Scholar Services for the past three years.

The National and International Scholarships Program is accepting Fulbright applications from U. of I. students and alumni for the 2011-2012 year. More information is available by contacting

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