A record number of UNH students and alumni have been named 2018 Fulbright Scholars in one of the nation’s most competitive programs of its kind.
Fulbright, the U.S. Department of State’s flagship cross-cultural exchange program, provides grants that allow students to conduct independent research, pursue graduate study or teach English abroad for terms of eight to 10 months. Of the 15 UNH applicants for 2018, nine were named semifinalists and eight have received Fulbright awards: current undergraduates Tyler Chapman ’18, Madison Pierce ’18, Eden Suoth ’18 and Rory Wilson ’18, alumnae Shannon Bradley ’17, Jackie Gilbert '17 and Erin Lee ’17 and graduate student Minna Mathiasson.
“This exceeds our most successful year, 2016, when we had seven students accept Fulbrights,” notes Jeanne Sokolowski, director of the Office of National Fellowships.
Tyler Chapman '18, an Honors student majoring in engineering physics who received his Fulbright to conduct research in Norway, says he’s honored to represent UNH and the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. “I feel extremely grateful to be selected as a finalist from a pool of competitive and talented applicants,” Chapman says, adding, “For someone like me, a Fulbright award is nothing short of a dream come true.”
In Norway, Chapman will work with the Centre for Earth Evolution and Dynamics and the plasma and space physics research groups at the University of Oslo. “I hope that this research will advance the understanding of analysis and detection methods for seismic events,” Chapman says, adding, “I also plan to engage with the community by working with local schools to develop new STEM-based classroom activities to bolster their curriculum and promote youth education.”
Madison Pierce '18, who was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in the Palestinian territories, describes the award as “an incredible opportunity for me to not only continue my study of Arabic but to also create cross-cultural connections with Palestinian audiences through the English classes I will be teaching.”
Pierce says she is looking forward to matching her love of teaching and her passion for the Arabic language and Middle Eastern culture. She also plans to become involved with organizations that assist Palestinian students with learning disabilities, as she hopes to pursue certification in special education in the future. “I believe this experience in a new educational context will be an invaluable learning opportunity,” she says, adding, “I am so grateful to the incredible faculty at UNH and the staff at the national fellowships office for helping me throughout this process.”
Eden Suoth '18 has received a research grant in Indonesia. “When applying for the Fulbright, I was reminded time and time again of how fortunate I was to have so many people willing to advocate for me and my research — people whose lives, mind you, are busier than mine,” he says. “This Fulbright award has opened the world to me, but it has also given me an immense appreciation for those within my locality — within this university.”
The Honors student, who has been studying philosophy and math, explains that Indonesia is home to many varied ethnic, religious and cultural groups. “My proposed research focuses on analyzing how Javanese conceptions of power affect the role of apologies in society. Through my research of Indonesian apologies and power, I hope to acknowledge differences in values among cultures in order to create roadmaps for navigating the expansive terrain of apologies.”
Rory Wilson '18, a McNair scholar majoring in philosophy, has been awarded a Fulbright to study in the United Kingdom. “I will be pursuing a research-based masters in philosophy at the University of Sheffield.
"My intended concentration is the intersection of social issues and language, essentially how we talk about identity and the groups we and others belong to,” Wilson explains.
Wilson describes the Fulbright grant as truly meaningful. “I feel that it is exactly where I need to be next year. The University of Sheffield department of philosophy hosts the Center for Engaged Philosophy, which focuses on how to utilize the discipline of philosophy for social good,” Wilson says, adding, “I am looking forward to participating in their Philosophy in the City program, which teaches philosophy in primary schools and homeless shelters.”
Two of UNH’s three alumnae recipients will be taking part in Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships and one will conduct research.
Shannon Bradley '17 will teach in Spain. “I am truly honored to have received a Fulbright grant, and I feel that Fulbright has presented me with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create mutual awareness between Spain and the United States,” she says.
While there, Bradley wants to become involved in her local community. “In addition to teaching English to Spanish students, I will also be creating an international pen-pal program as a means of encouraging mutual understanding,” she says. “I'm also looking forward to improving my language skills, seeking out unique volunteer opportunities, exploring both Galicia and Spain and growing on a personal as well as a professional level.”
Jackie Gilbert '17 has received her Fulbright to conduct research in Bolivia and Colombia. "Getting a Fulbright is the greatest reward for my hard work at the University of New Hampshire." Gilbert was one of two applicants awarded the grant after being deemed "most likely to successfully execute our research plans because of our experience," she explains, adding, "I have the Hamel Center at UNH to thank for that and the department of anthropology — I could not have accomplished this without the International Research Opportunities Program and the support and training from my anthropology professors."
After living and working in Bolivia and Colombia, she says, "I hope to bring back stories and lessons that we can all learn from, to bring awareness to the challenges present in the communities with which I work and, with guidance from the local communities, to help find a way to improve their quality of life."
Erin Lee '17 will travel to The Netherlands to teach. “The Fulbright award is an opportunity for me to join an internationally recognized community of scholars, artists and researchers who share my own values of progress in science, education, arts and communication,” she says.
In addition to her work as a teacher, Lee also hopes to become proficient in Dutch and join an arts community in The Netherlands.
“For me, this award means that I have the chance to fully immerse myself in the culture of one of my favorite places in the world,” she says, adding, “I will be able to return the gift of education that I have been blessed enough to receive by ensuring that others become educated as well.”
Minna Mathiasson, a current graduate student studying biology at UNH, received a Fulbright to conduct wild bee biodiversity research in Argentina. "A Fulbright award allows me to engage in international research cooperation, which I believe is essential to effective global wild bee conservation and environmental management strategies," she explains, noting, "In a similar fashion to the U.S., Argentina has a centralized focus on the honey bee."
Mathiasson sees the work she will be doing in Tucumán as critical. "Research into Argentinian native bee biodiversity touches on urgent questions of local management and conservation strategies in Latin America and the global effects of climate change on all pollinators," she says. "I look forward to engaging with the farming community in northwestern Argentina to ensure the local value and educational effectiveness of my research as well as to address the globally concerning issue of bee declines through international collaboration."