Almost Two Dozen Students and Alumni Offered Fulbright Awards

Published by Rebecca Goldfine
Bowdoin students and recent graduates have been offered Fulbrights to teach English or conduct research abroad next year in countries spanning the globe.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, founded by U.S. senator J. William Fulbright in 1946 and sponsored by the U.S. government, is designed to increase mutual understanding between our nation and other countries. Each year, applicants are selected in a competitive process to teach English or pursue studies or research in one of more than 160 nations around the world.

A record number of Bowdoin students applied this year in a challenging process that began last spring. They submitted initial applications the first week of classes last fall, and many had to wait until this spring to receive final notification.

In this extraordinary year when the Fulbright start date has been postponed to January, 2021, even the decision to accept the award may be difficult. “Our applicants invest tremendous energy in this process, in preparation for work that calls on the best of their liberal arts education as well as their deep engagement with the common good,” said Janice Jaffe, interim director of Student Fellowships and Research. “ We are proud of every one of them.”

We introduce our 2020 Fulbright winners below.

Ali Briere on a bike
Ali Briere ’20

Ali Briere ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Spain

Major: Hispanic Studies

Minor: Economics

Aspirations abroad: “Being a Fulbright fellow in Spain would be a natural opportunity for me to bring my passion for teaching and broad educational experience to the country. To complement my classroom teaching, I would like to propose a creative writing circle (in English or multilingual) and/or a bike riding and advocacy group.”

Gract Bukowski-Thall ’20
Grace Bukowski-Thall ’20

Grace Bukowski-Thall ’20, Study/Research Award, Austria

Major: Biology

Minor: German

Aspirations abroad: “I will be studying how the disruption of gut microbe compositions induces depression at the unit of translational neurogastroenterology at the Medical University of Graz. I will be working under Dr. Aitak Farzi to research why mice lacking gut peptide Peptide YY have altered intestinal microbial compositions and exhibit depression-like behavior....I believe that this project is important because an improved understanding of the connection between the gut and the brain will likely have major implications in developing treatments for depression and other mental illnesses.”

Emily Cohen
Emily Cohen ’20

Emily Cohen ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Germany

Major: History and German

Aspirations abroad: “To engage in my host community, I want to use the skills I have developed as a journalist to speak with my neighbors and other people in my community about current political and social issues, namely the rise of the far-right in Germany. I plan to compile the information I gain through these conversations into a nonfiction piece....In addition, I will explore my own identity and experience in Germany as a Jew of German and American descent.”

Caroline Flaharty ’20
Caroline Flaharty ’20

Caroline Flaharty ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Spain

Major: Education and Psychology

Minor: Sociology

Aspirations abroad: “As an ETA in Spain, I will be best preparing myself for my future goals to work as a teacher and eventually an administrator in urban settings through practical skill and language acquisition, as well as growth in cultural awareness and exchange.”

Sophie Friedman ’20
Sophie Friedman ’20

Sophie Friedman ’20, English Teaching Assistant, South Korea

Major: Education and English

Aspirations abroad: “I'm hoping to bring a creative, discussion-based, writing-focused approach to South Korea's traditional curricula, while learning a lot from South Korea's excellent, evolving education system. I'm committed to serving the needs of my students and eager to learn more about South Korean history, culture, literature, and food.”

Augustus Gilchrist
Augustus Gilchrist ’20

Augustus Gilchrist ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Russia

Major: Russian

Aspirations abroad: “Spending time at the periphery of the former Soviet Union has given me a deep appreciation for the culture of the periphery, and the opportunity to engage with Russian culture outside of the capitals is deeply exciting. I am a voracious reader of Russian literature and consumer of Russian media, and try to remain abreast of major developments in the country. This sense of being ‘in the loop’ will allow me to better connect to my students, both as a teacher of English and as a citizen diplomat explaining US culture.”

Ellen Gyasi ’20
Ellen Gyasi ’20

Ellen Gyasi ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Brazil

Major: Education and Anthropology

Minor: Africana Studies

Aspirations abroad: “I...have spent the majority of my college career studying educational policy and pedagogical practice and am very eager to apply what I have learned into a Brazilian context. As a researcher of Brazilian universities, this experience provides a unique opportunity for me to directly engage with my peers in a way that will be very meaningful. Lastly, I am interested in sharpening my Portuguese language abilities, as well as better acquainting myself with trends in the Brazilian educational system, building off my Mellon Mays research project.”

Laura Howells ’20
Laura Howells ’20

Laura Howells ’20, Study/Research Award, Estonia

Major: Government and Russian

Aspirations abroad: “I propose to study the Estonian model for countering cyber threats and disinformation. ...A leader in transparency, democratic governance, and public resilience against disinformation campaigns, Estonia is a paragon for defending its information environment from external attacks. Alongside Dr. Adrian Venables and his colleagues at Tallinn University of Technology, I will contribute to the cutting-edge information technology and cyber security research conducted in coordination with NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.” Read about Howells's semester-abroad experience in Moscow.

Alex Kogan ’20
Alex Kogan ’20

Alexander Kogan ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Slovak Republic

Major: Math and History

Aspirations abroad: “The Slovak Republic is the only central European country in which I have not yet spent any time. Living there would enable me to use what I already know about central European histories and identities to navigate the Slovak Republic, as well as provide me with plenty to learn about the uniqueness of Slovak culture. ...I love math. I think it is immensely fun, and I love sharing that enjoyment with others. I hope to join or create a math club at the Slovak school to which I am assigned.”

Sarah Lim ’18
Sarah Lim ’18

Seohyun (Sarah) Lim ’18, English Teaching Assistant, Germany

Major: Government and Psychology

Minor: German

Aspirations abroad: “Having only started learning German my sophomore year of college, I would like to go to Germany to fully experience the culture I have only learned about from a classroom. With the Fulbright year coinciding with the presidential election in the US and ending with federal elections in Germany, as a student of American politics and voting behavior, (I believe) the opportunity to be immersed in the culture with the people of Germany at such a pivotal time for both of our nations would be invaluable.”

Penelope Lusk ’17
Penelope Lusk ’17

Penelope Lusk ’17, Study/Research Award, United Kingdom

Major: English

Aspirations abroad: “I propose to complete a master's in English literary studies at the University of Exeter.... Completing the program will prepare me to begin PhD studies so that I can research empathy, ethics, and relationality in literature and the potential impacts on health care. Exeter's academic facilities in my area of interest will sharpen my intellectual acumen and give me scholarly experience in cross-cultural academic dialogue, preparing me to teach and lead in the health humanities.”

Will Parker ’20
Will Parker ’20

Will Parker ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Germany

Major: Environmental Studies/Earth and Oceanographic Science

Minor: History

Aspirations abroad: “I am interested in serving as an ETA in Germany because of its regard for the environment and all public things. As an earth science and environmental studies major, I love the contained cities full of public spaces and the protected rural areas of Germany. Given the focus on sustainability in Germany, I find the environment a compelling route to understanding US and German culture, which I would use as a teaching tool.”

Rhianna Patel ’20
Rhianna Patel ’20

Rhianna Patel ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Spain

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Math

Aspirations abroad: “Spain...affords me the opportunity to assistant teach in a science classroom, which connects well with my background in and love for the STEM field....Although my recent injury prevents me from playing rugby again, I know that being part of a coaching staff at a youth rugby club in Spain will afford me the opportunity to participate in this unique culture. It is through these bonds that I hope to make friends and exchange culture.”

Tessa Peterson ’20
Tessa Peterson ’20

Tessa Peterson ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Vietnam

Major: Francophone Studies and Earth and Oceanographic Science

Aspirations abroad: “By practicing speaking Vietnamese with locals, I seek to understand the history and effects of French colonization of Indochina, which has been largely overlooked in my coursework. Likewise, I recognize that international collaboration will be necessary to respond to the acute threat of climate change in Vietnam, making cross-cultural exchange an urgent priority.”

Kate Rusk-Kosa ’20
Kate Rusk-Kosa ’20

Kate Rusk-Kosa ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Mexico

Major: Education and Sociology

Minor: Africana Studies

Aspirations abroad: “Being an ETA in Mexico means to me the ability to return to a place that, as an eight-year-old, I called home and to reconnect with a culture that profoundly influenced my upbringing. Beyond the personal connection, this opportunity would allow me to further build upon and strengthen my teaching skills as I strive to become a teacher in a bilingual school setting in my home of Los Angeles.”

Sadie Saxton ’20
Sadie Saxton ’20

Sadie Saxton ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Spain

Major: Environmental Studies and English

Minor: Hispanic Studies

Aspirations abroad: “As an ambassador of US culture, I hope to educate my community in La Rioja about a facet of American culture that resonates deeply with my passion for outdoor education, namely the [national parks] system, along with the current limitations the system faces, such as accessibility, inclusion, and conservation. [And] I wish to gain a better understanding of how ecotourism has influenced the availability and popularity of the natural resources and spaces throughout La Rioja. I will do this by researching local flora and fauna, shadowing local guides, and learning to give guided walks by understanding the culture of Spanish outdoor education and how it differs or mirrors the culture in the US.”

Sarah Shadowens ’19
Sarah Shadowens ’19

Sarah Shadowens ’19, English Teaching Assistant, Malaysia

Major: Religion and Chinese

Aspirations abroad: “The ETA program in Malaysia allows work with kids in secondary school, which is the same age group I am working with now in my Americorps position in Boston, MA....I [also] hope to invest myself in the local religious customs of my host community and work to understand religious identity throughout the country. I want to help coach sports, specifically tennis, and/or mentor an art group—two areas that I'm invested in and find to be an important form of self-expression and avenue for bridging divisions.”

Ely Spencer ’20
Ely Spencer ’20

Ely Spencer ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Spain

Major: Hispanic Studies

Minor: Arabic

Aspirations abroad: “I would draw from my background in Arabic language studies, as well as the time I've spent studying in Morocco, in order to create a setting in which I could teach basic Arabic and foster inroads between Spanish children and Moroccan immigrants. I would reach out to Moroccans to organize opportunities for cultural exchange, such as shared meals and traditional music.”

Franklin Taylor ’19
Franklin Taylor ’19

Franklin Taylor ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Germany

Major: German and Economics

Aspirations abroad: “I am a TA for German 1101 and have been a coach for children's football. Through these opportunities, I realized that I love to see the smiles on students' and children's faces when they achieve their goals. I would like to undertake the ETA opportunity so that I can work with students but also use the German language that has become part of my identity. I specifically would like to work in Germany because I love the culture and societal efforts toward achieving sustainability.”

Owen Tuck ’20
Owen Tuck ’20

Owen Tuck ’20, Study/Research Award, Germany

Major: Biochemistry and German

Aspirations abroad: “The bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii is a leading cause of deadly infections in health care settings. The disturbing proliferation of resistance to traditional antibiotics in A. baumannii strains worldwide necessitates the development of innovative therapeutic strategies. I propose the chemical synthesis of a new vaccine to protect at-risk individuals from A. baumannii infection. The proposed vaccine molecule is a five-sugar glycan based on the recently discovered K1 capsular polysaccharide and will be synthesized using modern sugar chemistry methods in the group of Prof. Dr. Peter Seeberger at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany.”

Elly Veloria
Elly Veloria ’20

Elyse (Elly) Veloria ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Colombia

Major: Anthropology and Africana Studies

Aspirations abroad: “Colombia's dedication to transforming the nation through an ambitious peace process inspires and motivates me to think critically about how individuals use their difference as a source of power. In particular, I am drawn to Colombia's empathetic response to 1.2 million Venezuelan immigrants. Through the provision of health care, education, and welcoming the children of Venezuelan immigrants, Colombia stands out as a leader in approaching a global phenomenon of border crossing and community building.”

Sarah Walker ’20
Sarah Walker ’20

Sarah Walker ’20, English Teaching Assistant, Spain

Major: Government and Legal Studies

Minor: Earth and Oceanographic Science

Aspirations abroad: “I have a strong connection to place after a semester abroad in Granada, yet I have only visited a small area of the country and would like to return to broaden my understanding of Spanish culture.... I will seek out a “host family,” either with whom to live or visit during the week to know my community on a personal level. I also plan to engage with the local church community.... Lastly, I plan to participate in volunteer opportunities, such as with local migrant communities, to understand how community support systems function in Spain and give back to the community to which I am welcomed.”