Record Number of UA Students, Grads Offered Fulbrights

With 16 being named, the UA has a record number of students and recent graduates who have been offered scholarships from the Fulbright U.S. Student Programs.
Sept. 23, 2011
Ashley Coles (Photo by Beatriz Verdugo/UANews)
Ashley Coles (Photo by Beatriz Verdugo/UANews)
Christiana Caro
Christiana Caro
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students conducting research abroad.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students conducting research abroad.

The University of Arizona has set a new record this year with 16 students and recent graduates being offered Fulbright U.S. Student Program scholarships.

The figure is up from 14 students who earned Fulbright scholarships last year, making this year's class the largest number of UA recipients to date.

Of the 16 students this year, three are currently enrolled in the UA Honors College and several recently graduated from the UA. 

"This is a huge accomplishment for the University of Arizona and the many academically and artistically talented students who were recognized for this prestigious award," said Karna Walter, director of nationally competitive scholars for the UA Honors College.

The Fulbright Program is an international education exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government currently supporting more than 1,600 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2011-12 academic year. 

Recipients are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their respective fields.

"We are so pleased that these numbers have surpassed all previously established records and look forward to raising the bar again next year," Karna also said.

One UA recipient, Ashley Coles, said she was especially drawn to the Fulbright because she sees a direct connection between her work and the priorities of the organization.

"The Fulbright grant is especially appealing because of its emphasis on cultural immersion and community service, both of which are strong components of my project," said Coles, a third-year doctoral candidate in the School of Geography and Development.

Other UA students who were offered scholarships, along with their academic programs, are: 

  • Cristiana Caro, who earned her M.F.A. degree from the UA in May with a focus on photography
  • Frank Cernik, an Honors College student who is studying creative writing and physics
  • Graduate students Amy Clark and Megan Sheehan, both of the School of Anthropology, though Clark has received funding elsewhere
  • Graduate students Brittany Davis and Jamie McEvoy, who are both studying geography; also, McEvoy is studying water policy
  • Candice Dagnino, who has since graduated after having studied political science and Spanish
  • Athena Ganchorre, who earned her doctorate degree in molecular and cellular biology
  • Rachel Heuston, who studied severe and multiple disabilities with an emphasis on deaf-blindness and has since graduated
  • E. Connor Mendenhall, an Honors College student studying economics and international studies
  • Samia Osman, an Honors College student studying international studies, psychology and also molecular and cellular biology
  • Ruth Penniston, another recent graduate, who studied environmental and water resource economics undergraduate
  • John Washington, a graduate student in the creative writing program

Law student Capen said she applied because of the tremendous opportunities she knew the Fulbright would bring.

"The Fulbright allows me to gain an international
perspective on my field of study," said Capen, who will study the intersection between criminal and elder law in Canada with a particular focus on protections. 

"Being named a Fulbright is important for my research because it allows me to take the research subject to the international level," Capen said. "It is also a prestigious award that will have a positive effect on my future career."

She eventually plans to practice either criminal or elder law in Tucson.

"I have a passion for protecting the elderly, and my dream job is one in which I combine my love for the justice system with my desire to protect the elderly," Capen said.

Coles is utilizing her Fulbright to aid in her dissertation work in central Colombia.

There, she will lead an investigation in an area that is prone to steep hillsides, landslides, floods, volcanic eruptions and other hazards.

Ultimately, Coles wants to develop a model for a relocation strategy that critically considers socioecononic concerns and other issues to minimize vulnerability. 

Some existing strategies may include removing residents from the hazardous areas, "but sometimes these programs end up negatively affecting those who participate," Coles said.

Coles said she will be working directly with community members to develop a strategy and appreciates having the support of Fulbright.

She noted that this "certainly boosts the confidence that others may have in my work, not to mention my own."