Record number of UNH students and graduates receive Fulbright awards

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Left to right: Tien Dang '16, Ian MacKay '16 and Paige Balcom '16, three of the 10 UNH students who have been awarded Fulbright grants. 

One of the most prestigious scholarships in the country has been awarded to not just one University of New Hampshire student or graduate but 10, setting a record for the most Fulbright grants given to UNH students and alumni in a single year.

Recipients include Paige Balcom '16 (mechanical engineering) of Londonderry, New Hampshire; Paige Clarizia '15 (environmental science) of Danvers, Massachusetts; Tien Dang '16 (biomedical sciences) of Manchester, New Hampshire; Brian Kraus  '13 (economics/history) of Waverly, New York; Isaac Leslie '16G (sociology/natural resources) of Shaftsbury, Vermont; Ian MacKay '16 (German/international affairs) of Francestown, New Hampshire; and Alyssa Taffaro '13 (business administration/international affairs) of Syracuse, New York.

UNH Fulbright awardees
Paige Clarizia '16 (top) and Isaac Leslie '16 

New Hampshire residents Cody FitzGerald '16 (mathematics) of Somersworth and North Hampton’s Theresa Renker '16G (Spanish) and Emily Loud '15 (linguistics/international affairs) declined the award.

Balcom will research the technical and cultural feasibility of aquaponics in Uganda. She began the project during a trip to that country through Engineers Without Borders. The recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program grant, Balcom plans a career focused on engineering technical solutions to achieve an adequate food supply in developing nations. She has deferred acceptance to the University of California Berkeley Ph.D. program in mechanical engineering for the Fulbright project.

Clarizia will conduct research on spatiotemporal variability as a result of climate change in southern Sweden, a project she worked on in 2014 as part of a National Science Foundation-funded Northern Ecosystems Research for Undergraduates program directed by Earth sciences professor Ruth Varner. The research will build on Clarizia’s earlier work with the program that focused on manual greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands.

A McNair scholar and member of the honors program, Dang will travel to the Netherlands to investigate the connections between anti-angiogenic cancer treatments and premature vascular aging and hypertension in cancer patients. She also will volunteer with the Erasmus University chapter of the International Federation of Medical Students, which works with refugees, a cause close to Dang’s heart. She moved to the U.S. from Vietnam when she was nine years old.

After a stint in the Peace Corps, Kraus will now travel to Mexico on a binational internship grant aimed at enhancing knowledge, expertise and understanding of post-NAFTA Mexico and combining coursework in international business or law with an internship at a Mexico-based company. With an aim to work as an economic or USAID officer in the Foreign Service, Kraus wants to study the link between private enterprise and sustainable economic development.

Leslie will head to Argentina to explore how ferias francas (farmers markets) may provide Argentinian family farmers with an economically and socially sustainable marketing alternative. Leslie will collaborate with farmers by conducting interviews while assisting with their daily work.  At UNH, he worked closely with sociologist Tom Safford, also a Fulbrighter, who described Leslie’s project as combining academic inquiry and cultural engagement.

Brian Kraus '13 and Alyssa Taffaro '13
Brian Kraus '13 and Alyssa Taffaro '13 (courtesy photo)

MacKay, a student of German and Chinese who has studied abroad in both locations, has a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany. He chose the country based on his interest in refugee politics; Germany has accepted more than 1,000,000 refugees from conflict areas around the world. MacKay will be part of a special diversity program that places grantees in schools with students with minority or refugee backgrounds.

Cody FitzGerald '16 and Emily Loud '15
Cody FitzGerald '16 and Emily Loud '15 declined their awards to pursue opportunities in Utah and Rwanda.

Like Kraus, Taffaro also leveraged her Peace Corps service into a binational internship program in Mexico. In her work as a community economic development facilitator in Costa Rica, Taffaro developed skills in project management, small business consulting and data collection and analysis that she hopes to apply to her internship in Mexico while also engaging with the local community via projects with youth and teaching English.

The three applicants who chose to decline the Fulbright offers are pursuing other opportunities.

FitzGerald, who was offered a grant to Finland, is entering a Ph.D. program in mathematics at the University of Utah. Loud, offered an English teaching assistantship to South Korea, has accepted a Peace Corps appointment in Rwanda. And Renker declined an English teaching assistantship grant to Peru to participate in a Princeton in Latin America internship in Ecuador.

The seven individuals accepting their awards are among the more than 1,900 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad for the 2016-2017 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, administered by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board and the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

The Fulbright student program is the largest U.S. educational and cultural exchange program offering opportunities to engage in international graduate study, advanced research in foreign countries and English language teaching worldwide.

UNH undergraduates, graduate students or alumni interested in applying for a 2017-2018 Fulbright should contact the Office of National Fellowships for more information.


Jeremy Gasowski | UNH Marketing | | 603-862-4465
Valerie Lester | Communications and Public Affairs | | (603) 862-2632