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Fourteen U. of I. students, recent alumni named Fulbright recipients

8/22/2011 | Jeff Unger, News Bureau | 217-333-1085;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Fourteen University of Illinois students or recent alumni have been offered fully funded opportunities to research, study, or teach English in other nations through the U.S. Student Fulbright program. Another Illinois student has been named an alternate for this prestigious award.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the program awards 1,700 academic year grants annually to U.S. citizens for use in more than 135 nations. The combined $300 million investment by the U.S. and foreign governments generally provides full funding for round-trip travel, room and board, health insurance, and full or partial tuition.

Candidates from every discipline design and outline their individual overseas projects as part of their application. In addition, pre-arranged Fulbright English teaching assistantships are available to more than 65 countries. The program seeks to promote cross-cultural interaction and mutual understanding through students’ engagement in their host communities.

“This year’s Illinois recipients range from graduating seniors, to master’s students, to Ph.D. candidates, to recent alumni,” said David Schug, campus Fulbright adviser and a co-director of the National and International Scholarship Program at Illinois. “We are pleased to see the diversity of Illinois students and recent graduates who have earned this fantastic opportunity.”

“Our selected students will be spread throughout Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, placing University of Illinois ambassadors around the globe, and enriching our own campus and other U.S. communities upon their return,” said Laura Hastings, also a co-director of the National and International Scholarship Program.

The scholarship recipients:

Richelle Bernazzoli, of Portage, Pa., a doctoral candidate in geography, will study the Euro-Atlantic integration process in Croatia. Bernazzoli has served with the U.S. Army National Guard in Kosovo, and she plans to volunteer with disabled veterans in Croatia while carrying out her dissertation research. She plans an academic career focused on the European Union and NATO.

Jack Brofman, of Oak Park, Ill., will be teaching English in the Slovak Republic. Brofman graduated in May 2011 from the U. of I. He was an English conversation partner for the university’s Intensive English Institute and he has volunteered as an ice hockey coach for children with developmental disabilities. Brofman is interested in pursuing a career either in urban planning or sports management.

Tyler Carrington, of Iowa City, Iowa, a doctoral candidate in modern European history, has been offered a Fulbright grant to Germany. He will study the romantic lives of Berliners in 1900 as they wrote newspaper personal ads, read marriage guides, and frequented dance halls and rode on streetcars to find love in the turn-of-the-century city. Carrington earned his bachelor’s and master’s in German and a master’s in history and will seek a professorship in modern European history upon his return.

Kendra Dickinson, of Chicago, will teach English in Argentina at an English-teaching training college. Dickinson, who earned a degree in Spanish with a minor in environmental studies in May 2011, studied in Costa Rica in 2009, and was a counselor at Concordia Language camp in Minnesota in the summer of 2010. Dickinson seeks a career as a bilingual educator.

Christine Evans, of Deer Park, Ill., will be teaching English in Germany with a Fulbright grant. Evans graduated in May through the Campus Honors Program with a double major in mathematics and German. While at Illinois, she participated in a study abroad program in Austria, led freshman seminars for arts and sciences students, and volunteered as a conversation partner for the Intensive English Institute. After her Fulbright, Evans plans to begin a doctoral program in Germanic linguistics.

Harry Fischer, of St. Louis, was selected as a Fulbright recipient to explore the social and political factors that promote equitable access to water through rural development interventions in the Indian Himalayas. Fischer earned a master’s in geography at Illinois and is now enrolled in the doctoral program in the same department. After completing his doctorate, Fischer envisions a career in international development focusing on resource management in the context of global climate change.

Zachary Grotovsky, of Mokena, Ill., has been offered a Fulbright English teaching assistantship to Germany. Grotovsky, a May 2011 graduate in Germanic languages and literatures, has English teaching experience in Austria and has taken Polish language course work. He has worked as a German language tutor at the Urbana Middle School and hopes to eventually teach high school German.

Brittany Koteles, of Belvidere, Ill., has been awarded a Fulbright grant to Spain to study best practices in the new field of social entrepreneurship. A May 2011 Illinois graduate in Spanish and a self-designed major in public and community service, Koteles participated in the Campus Honors Program  and carried out research in the department of psychology at Illinois. She spent the spring 2010 studying in Bilbao, Spain. She hopes to pursue master’s degrees in business and public administration and devote her career to supporting locally based social ventures.

Richard “Andy” Miller, of Dayton, Ohio, has accepted a Fulbright grant to study classical, popular and traditional percussion styles at La Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, Colombia. Miller earned a master’s in music in percussion performance from Illinois in May 2011. As part of his Fulbright year, Miller will be creating a “sound exchange” by commissioning Colombian and American composers to write pieces for percussion to be performed in both countries. Throughout his career, Miller plans to perform and teach, while emphasizing the integration of world music and classical percussion within a social work context.

Archana Prakash, of Hacienda Heights, Calif., has been selected to conduct Fulbright research in Egypt. Prakash, a doctoral student in history, will spend her year investigating the extent to which 19th-century Egyptian leaders utilized European models in establishing a new education system in Egypt. This research will form the basis of her dissertation. She plans to pursue an academic career in Middle Eastern and African history.

Jonas Vaicikonis, of Palos Hills, Ill., was offered a Fulbright grant to Lithuania to explore and contrast newspaper coverage of politically motivated Russian petroleum shut-offs to Lithuania in 1990 and 2006. Vaicikonis, a May 2010 bachelor’s recipient with honors distinction in international studies, envisions a career within the national security sector with the U.S. government. While at Illinois, Vaicikonis also earned a National Security Education Program Boren Scholarship to support a year of study in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Jerry Vassalla, of Downers Grove, Ill., has been awarded a Fulbright English teaching assistantship to Germany. Since completing his bachelor’s degree from Illinois in 2010, Vassalla has been pursuing a master’s in European Union studies at Illinois. Vassalla would like to work as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. government.

Tessa Marie Winkelmann, of Indio, Calif., has accepted a Fulbright to conduct archival research in the Philippines. Winkelmann, a doctoral candidate in history at Illinois, is interested in examining how social and racial hierarchies were managed and challenged through interracial and intimate relationships between American men and Filipinas during the early 20th century U.S. colonization of the Philippines. She plans a college teaching career in Asian American studies and history.

Elaine Wu, of Naperville, Ill., has been offered a Fulbright to teach conversational English to high school students in Malaysia. She graduated with a bachelor’s in psychology from Illinois in May 2011. She taught English in rural Taiwan in the summer of 2010 as well as on campus through volunteering as a conversation partner for the Intensive English Institute. She is interested in exploring Malaysia as a melting pot within Asia.

The National and International Scholarships Program is accepting Fulbright applications from University of Illinois students and alumni for the 2012-2013 year. More information is available by contacting

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