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U. of I. students, recent alumni named Fulbright Scholars

7/16/2013 | Earn Phatthamon Saenmuk, News Bureau Intern | 217-333-1085;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Several University of Illinois students and recent alumni have been offered fully funded opportunities to research, study or teach English in other nations through the U.S. student Fulbright program.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the program awards 1,900 academic grants annually to U.S. citizens for use in more than 140 nations. The combined $325 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.

The program seeks to promote cross-cultural interaction and mutual understanding through students’ engagement in their host communities.

“From Sweden to Indonesia and Brazil to Turkey, next year will find University of Illinois Fulbright recipients scattered around the world,” said David Schug, the director of the National and International Scholarships Program at the U. of. I. “We are proud to have these young people representing both Illinois and the U.S. to all corners of the globe.”

The scholarship recipients:

Jacqueline Alexander, of Champaign, Ill., who earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 2012, has been selected to teach English in Turkey. Alexander has extensive teaching experience with second- and fifth-grade students in Champaign, and received her Teaching English as a Second Language certificate in the summer of 2012 prior to spending a year teaching English in Germany. On campus, she was a member of the James Scholar Honors Program and volunteered extensively at the Intensive English Institute. Alexander hopes to pursue a master’s degree in Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages.

Brendan Doshi, of Arlington Heights, Ill., recently earned his bachelor’s in music and will conduct research in Brazil. He was a Campus Honors Program member and a recipient of the Fine and Applied Arts Talented Musician Award for four consecutive years. Doshi wants to study the history of Brazilian piano style and investigate the lineage of Brazilian pianists. He hopes it will contribute to his growth as a pianist, composer, arranger and producer, and will contribute to an eventual graduate degree in composition.

Michelle Kelleher, of Tinley Park, Ill., who earned her bachelor’s degree in global studies and psychology in 2012, will be teaching English in Brazil. A member of the James Scholar Honors Program, Kelleher traveled extensively throughout her undergraduate career. Additionally, she was an adult literacy volunteer with the Urbana Adult Education Center, and a crisis line volunteer for the Champaign County Mental Health Center. She hopes that her time in Brazil will contribute to her goals of working with international communities.

Nellie Manis, of Valley View, Pa., a graduate student in Russian, East European and Eurasian studies, will conduct translation course work and research in Russia. The Fulbright program also has awarded her a critical language enhancement award so that she can continue developing her Russian language skills. Prior to beginning her master’s work, Manis worked as a substitute teacher for Schuylkill County schools in Pennsylvania, served as a community service coordinator for the Schuylkill juvenile justice program and completed an internship at the international criminal court in The Hague. Manis will be taking a year’s worth of classes and will establish a professional portfolio in the translation and interpretation department at the Linguistics University of Nizhny Novgorod. Manis hopes to work with international organizations committed to preserving peace, fostering justice and furthering human rights.

Tara McGovern, of Western Springs, Ill., will be teaching English in Ecuador for a year. McGovern, who earned a bachelor’s in anthropology in 2013, is the recipient of multiple research awards, including a National Science Foundation supplemental grant, first prize for undergraduate research from the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, two Foreign Language Area Studies fellowships and a Campus Honors Program summer research award. McGovern hopes to pursue a career path that engages with indigenous groups in Latin America. McGovern subsequently hopes to work in international education or sustainable development.

Matthew Moynihan, of Naperville, Ill., will conduct an English teaching assistantship in Indonesia. Moynihan graduated in May, with a bachelor’s in molecular and cellular biology. He has been a conversation partner for the U. of I. Intensive Language Institute and a research assistant in the neurocognitive kinesiology laboratory. Moynihan wants to immerse himself in the Indonesian culture and broaden his cultural understanding to help his development as a teacher of health. Moynihan will attend Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Colorado. He intends to practice medicine abroad.

Elizabeth Mucha, of Lincolnwood, Ill., who graduated in May with a degree in linguistics, will teach English in Germany. She has taught French in the U. of I.’s Foreign Language Club and worked as a teaching assistant at Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development. She has also twice received the Goethe Institute Book Prize, as well as a German Academic Exchange Service course grant for study in Germany. Upon her return, she will explore graduate school options in ESL education, German or nonprofit work.

Elizabeth Philipp, of Chicago, will be teaching English in South Korea. Philipp, a May graduate in global studies and psychology, has been an intern at the Brookings Institution as well as a member of Sigma Iota Rho National Honors Society for international studies. Philipp was a volunteer with the Intensive English Institute at the U. of I. She hopes to pursue graduate studies in international relations focusing in security studies.

Joseph Weber, of Litchfield, Ill., earned a bachelor’s in molecular and cellular biology, and will conduct research in Sweden. He is a recipient of the James R. Beck undergraduate research award and a James Scholar research award. For the past three years, Weber has served as a research assistant in professor Bruce Fouke's geomicrobiology lab. Weber hopes that his research at the Royal Institute of Technology will help him characterize the cell-membrane proteins of the relatively novel and under-investigated organism Sulfurihydrogenibium yellostonense. Weber intends to pursue a medical degree at Loyola University in Chicago.

Amanda White, of Park Ridge, Ill, a 2011 graduate in Spanish, has been awarded an English teaching assistantship to Brazil. During her undergraduate career, White earned an Illinois leadership certificate, was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society and graduated with high departmental distinction in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In 2011-2012, White served as an English teaching aide in La Granadella, Spain, before accepting a position with Chicago Public Schools as a bilingual English-Spanish teaching aide. She hopes to utilize her Fulbright experience in Brazil to encourage her future students to explore and go beyond their comfort zones.

“As one can see, Fulbright recipients come from diverse academic backgrounds, which demonstrates that across campus, Illinois students are conducted cutting edge research, and are eager to use their skills on the international stage,” said Matthew Price, the coordinator for the National and International Scholarships Program.

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