Four UNH students received Fulbright grants this spring to teach, study or conduct research abroad, with two more earning alternate recognition.
Nine of the 20 applicants from UNH advanced as far as the semifinal stage. Those receiving offers were Angelica Beltran Franco ’19, Brian Lundgren ’21, Gwyn Norris ’21 and Valerie Pascetta ’22. Daniel Frehner ’21 and James Silveria ’22 were chosen as alternates.
Lundgren ultimately declined his English teaching assistantship assignment in Bulgaria to continue teaching history at the New Hampton School in New Hampshire. Silveria withdrew his application, as well, in order to accept an opportunity to teach with the Urban Teachers program in Dallas, Texas.
Beltran Franco accepted a graduate study grant to Norway and is awaiting word on her official assignment, although there is a chance she’ll be joining a research team called LARGE, led by Barbara Zimmerman, researching carnivore behaviors around livestock.
Beltran Franco, originally from Medellin, Colombia, is a traveling wildlife technician who is currently fulfilling a contract in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She delayed graduate school in order to gain more experience in field work and now, three years later, is excited to pursue her graduate education at the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, where she can focus on her interests in carnivores and their behaviors.
“I try to keep my mind open because there are not enough lifetimes to do what I want to get done. Assuming that I get to research about something related to carnivore-livestock conflict management, it will open the door for me to work in all the Americas,” Beltran Franco says. “I speak Spanish and could bring my work from Canada to Argentina.”
Norris, a native of Barrington, New Hampshire, will be completing an English teaching assistantship in Germany. She will be assisting with lessons and material development in the classroom, and will also lead a language learning technique conversation group.
“I appreciate the value of cultural exchange and interaction. To improve my German, I need the linguistic and cultural immersion, and to improve as an English teacher, I need experience in a classroom,” Norris says. “The Fulbright gives me the opportunity to improve both of those skills.”
Norris hopes to be a language teacher and would eventually like to earn a master’s in library science to “help make language learning accessible to everyone.” She is currently working for Dimond Library in collection management while finishing her online certificate to teach English to speakers of other languages (TESOL).
Pascetta, from Bow, New Hampshire, will spend nine months in Belgium researching RNA virus diversity in African mammals at the University of Antwerp. She says she is also looking forward to taking courses at the university and volunteering at the Antwerp Zoo.
“Receiving this grant has been an incredible honor,” Pascetta says. “Having a year to not only travel but also learn and research under some of the world’s leading experts in what I’m interested in is unbelievable. I hope to gain not only a whole new set of research skills and techniques, but also a great network of international scientific connections.”
Her research will focus on using next-generation sequencing to characterize RNA viruses from Central African wildlife tissue samples. The work could lead to new insights on evolutionary origins of epidemic viruses that are suspected to have jumped from Afrotropical animals to humans, such as mumps, Zika and Hepatitis C, she says.
Pascetta hopes to pursue a career as a biochemical research scientist with a specialty in infectious diseases.
Lundgren, from Atkinson, New Hampshire, attended UNH Manchester and declined the grant to accept a position as a full-time faculty member at the New Hampton School. In the future, he’d like to pursue a master’s in history or conflict and development studies with the hopes of working for an NGO or continuing to teach either at the high school or undergraduate level.
Frehner, from Peterborough, New Hampshire, lives in New York City and works for a British data consultancy that recently opened in the U.S. He’s been interested in a career in international relations for a long time, he says, and looked at the Fulbright as a way to “practice my Arabic, grow my relationship with the state department and potentially have a political impact there.”
His work would be in Morocco, integrating the community and conducting a series of surveys and interviews focused on the country’s political climate, including political participation by young people and the merits of democratic participation, including symbolic ones, he says.
“Being recognized by Fulbright would mean a demonstration of faith in my potential and an investment in the ideas I want to be a part of supporting in MENA; a deep faith in democracy and bottom-up political participation as a necessity for stability and progress,” Frehner says.
Silveria, from Foxborough, Massachusetts, chose to join the Urban Teachers program in part to improve equity and access to education. “This program puts me in a position to be a voice pushing for that as the future of education, as our program is very focused on social justice and equity in urban education,” he says.