COVID-19 delays travel dates for UNH students

Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Thompson Hall

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Katherine Heaney ’20G 

Katherine Heaney ’20G just received her master’s degree in secondary education. Her plan for September had been to travel to Spain to teach English for the next academic year. She is one of five UNH graduates offered 2020 Fulbright scholarships to teach, study or conduct research abroad.

All five were scheduled to travel this fall. But the coronavirus has changed that. The start date for research grants and English teaching assistants has been pushed to next year. Study grant recipients may start sooner, depending on travel restrictions and the host university’s policies. Instead of spending September through June 2021 in Asturias, Spain, Heaney’s departure date has been delayed until January 2021.

“I am hopeful that the delay will allow the Fulbright program and partnership schools to recover and prepare for another round of incoming English teaching assistants,” Heaney says. “My plan right now is to go full steam ahead with the fellowship  — plus finding something to do in the fall.”

In addition to Heaney, offers were extended to Jordyn Haime ’20, China; Dante Povinelli ’20, Taiwan; Katherine Perez-Rivera ’20G, Czech Republic; and Elizabeth Gill ’17, Peru. Three alternates were also named: Allison Easterbrook ’19, South Korea and Ronny Nguyen ’19, United Kingdom. Rory O’Neil ’19 was a semifinalist.

In July, Darby O'Neil, originally selected as an alternate, was offered a Fulbright to be an English teaching assistant in Kazakhstan starting in January 2021.

Jordyn Haime ’20
Jordyn Haime ’20

Haime’s Fulbright has been postponed until March. “I am also anticipating that it might be canceled altogether, in which case I will have to reapply this fall because Fulbright will most likely not defer our awards until the following year,” Haime says.

The English/journalism and international affairs major planned to conduct research at Nanjing University in Nanjing, China, on how China teaches Jewish studies in higher education, and how that education is supported by the government. For now she is working as a freelance reporter.

Dante Povinelli ’20
Dante Povinelli ’20

An exception to the schedule changes of the other recipients, Povinelli is set to start his two-year international master's degree program in agricultural economics at National Taiwan University in September.

“The Fulbright program has confirmed that degree-seeking Fulbright recipients can attend as planned if their school and host institution have the capacity and can safety accept students,” the Paul College graduate says. “Although my start date has not been moved, travel is still restricted until the level four global travel advisory falls below a level three. I am acting as though it will but with no guarantee.”

Perez-Rivera has accepted a Fulbright to conduct research in the Czech Republic. Her focus will be on a series of field experiments in streams within the Slavkov Forest to study dissolved organic matter.

Katherine Perez-Rivera ’20G
Katherine Perez-Rivera ’20G

"The grant is expected to start sometime in mid-January. I’m planning to arrive to Czech Republic around Jan.14,” says Perez-Rivera, who received her master’s degree in natural resources. “I will be there for seven months.” 

Gill graduated from UNH in 2017 with a dual degree in sustainable agriculture and international affairs. Her October 2020 travel date has been moved until after Jan. 1. Gill’s research involves assessing the diversity of squash in the northern region of Peru and adding the information to the Peruvian seedbank. 

Elizabeth Gill ’17
Elizabeth Gill ’17

“With the current status of the coronavirus, I am hoping we will be able to travel by January. Yet, I am very aware it is hard for anything to be set in stone at this current point in time, and I need to stay flexible,” Gill says.

Funded by Congress, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program offers research, study and teaching opportunities in more than 160 countries worldwide. Since the program began in 1946, more than 390,000 scholarships have been awarded. Fulbright is the world’s largest and most diverse international educational exchange program.

The UNH Office of National Fellowships provides assistance to students and alumni applying for national and international fellowships and scholarships like Fulbright. For more information, email Jeanne Sokolowski or call (603) 862-0733.

Photographer: 
Jeremy Gasowski | Communications and Public Affairs | jeremy.gasowski@unh.edu | 603-862-4465