Four Lawrence University students and two recent graduates who applied to the Fulbright U.S. Student Program have made it to the semifinalist stage.
Also, a 2013 Lawrence alumna who recently earned her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been named a finalist.
Having seven candidates—out of nine applicants—make it to the semifinalist round of one of the world’s most prestigious scholarship programs is beyond impressive, said Claire Kervin, assistant professor of English and director of fellowships advising.
“They showed dedication and persistence, writing multiple essay drafts while balancing academic work, jobs, and family and personal commitments—during a global pandemic,” Kervin said.
Announcements of who makes the list of finalists will be rolling out in the coming weeks.
The students who are semifinalists include:
- Emmeline Sipe, a senior from Shorewood who is majoring in music performance (voice) and Spanish. Sipe has applied to be an English teaching assistant (ETA) in Spain. She’s proposed to do a supplementary project providing translation and other support for Mujeres Unidas Contra El Maltrato (MUM), a nonprofit organization in Madrid that supports victim-survivors of domestic violence and educates on issues of gender discrimination. Her goal is to work as a translator and interpreter in a bilingual education or humanitarian setting.
- Marion Hermitanio, a senior from De Pere who is majoring in Spanish and linguistics. Hermitanio has applied to be an English teaching assistant (ETA) in Mexico. Her proposed community engagement project in Mexico involves starting a film club showing American and Mexican films. A section leader in Cantala, Lawrence’s women’s choir, Hermitanio also is excited to sing in Mexico because of how singing creates community. She is eyeing a career as a speech therapist in a school with a large Mexican-American population.
- Anna White is a senior from Baraboo majoring in biology and Russian studies. White has applied to be an English teaching assistant (ETA) in Russia. The status of the program going forward is to be determined. If White would go, she would be building on her experience as a trainer of service dogs. She proposes to share her passion for animals with local Russians and learn about the Russian culture around animals and animal training approaches. She plans to eventually attend either veterinary or medical school.
- Alex Chand is a senior from Southlake, Texas, majoring in English and physics. Chand has applied for a Fulbright Study/Research award to support a master’s degree in English literature at the University of Leeds in the U.K. She will apply her interdisciplinary background in graduate school, writing a thesis that examines both scientific and literary texts where autistic voices are present. She has been active in college athletics and disability advocacy and she hopes to continue both while in the U.K. Eventually, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in English literature in the United States.
The alumni who are semifinalists include:
- Koby Brown ’18 reapplied for a Study/Research Award to Brazil after his previous year’s Fulbright was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and it was unclear if he would get to go. It’s currently looking promising that he’ll be going to Brazil this spring. If that happens, he’ll withdraw his new candidacy, Kervin said.
- Joseph (Sam) Samuele Genualdi ’17 applied for a Study/Research award to support a master’s degree in composition and creative music practice at the University of Limerick Irish World Academy of Music and Dance. A previous Watson fellow, Genualdi wants to continue to develop his skills as a guitarist, songwriter, composer, and improviser in Ireland.
The alumna who has already been named a finalist:
- Cayla Rosche ’13 applied to and was accepted into the Fulbright Scholar Program. She graduated from Lawrence and then went on to earn a Ph.D. from UW. Kervin assisted her with her application. She sought a Fulbright Scholar grant that will allow her to bring her teaching skills and background in lyric diction to the Iceland University for the Arts in Reykjavík.
Finalists are selected on a rolling basis, with most finding out their status between late March and May.
“Undoubtedly, it’s terrific when applicants become finalists, but regardless of the outcome, the process of applying for the Fulbright itself can be valuable,” Kervin said. “Everyone who applies for the Fulbright hones their writing skills and clarifies their values and aspirations.”
A Fulbright fellowship covers a wide range of territory. It can support graduate study, teaching abroad, or an independent research project or artistic endeavor. Regardless of the particulars, every Fulbright is intended to support cultural exchange and create greater mutual understanding between nations.
Kervin leads a Fulbright Committee at Lawrence that interviews applicants and prepares endorsement materials. This year’s committee includes Chloe Armstrong, associate professor of philosophy, Jason Brozek, Stephen Edward Scarff Professor of International Affairs and associate professor of government, and Julie Haurykiewicz, associate dean of academic success.
The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the program, which operates in more than 160 countries worldwide.