2013 Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors
The Fulbright U.S. Student Alumni Ambassador Program was established in 2008 to identify, train and engage a select group of approximately 15 Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumni each year to serve as representatives, recruiters and spokespersons for the Fulbright Program. They are selected annually through recommendations from Fulbright Commissions and U.S. Embassy staff, area managers, the Fulbright Student Program Outreach Division and are approved by the sponsor of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors come from an array of different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, states, fields of study, institutions; they have participated in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in all world areas.
Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors represent the program’s rich diversity and play a key role in increasing knowledge about Fulbright opportunities. They provide testimonials about their Fulbright experiences at conferences and campus presentations and offer application tips in written articles, video and podcast interviews, webinars and at special events throughout the United States. The Fulbright U.S. Student Program relies on the Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors to mentor potential applicants, sharing what a Fulbright grant is really like, along with how to address the challenges of living abroad successfully and how best to meet the Fulbright Program’s ultimate goal–to increase mutual understanding between the people of the U.S. and the people of other countries.
Current City: Jersey City, New Jersey
Undergraduate Institution: Seton Hall University
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant – Greece, 2010-2011
In Greece, Stephanie taught English at a private elementary school in Athens. She worked with teachers on preparing English lessons and creating a curriculum for bilingual students. Stephanie also volunteered with the U.S. Embassy’s American Corners Program by giving presentations to local teachers and students on teaching English, American holidays and Black History Month. Additionally, Stephanie was an active member of a Greek teaching organization, Teachers of English as a Second Language (TESOL GREECE), where she participated in various conferences and presented at their national convention. Stephanie is currently an administrative assistant at a New York City law firm and will soon begin her part-time master’s degree in international education at New York University.
Current City: New York, New York
Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami
Fulbright U.S. Student in Oceanography – Australia, 2011-2012
In Australia, Marvin utilized data from ocean Argo floats-free floating instruments which continuously measure temperature, salinity, and depth to detect the development and breakdown of the Southern Ocean’s stratified water. Marvin collaborated with world-renowned Australian and American scientists at the Climate Change Research Centre in Sydney, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization-Wealth from Oceans Flagship in Tasmania, and the Australian Antarctic Division. Marvin was also part of the physical oceanography team onboard an Australian marine research trip from Australia to Antarctica. Marvin is now a U.S. Department of State Thomas R. Pickering Fellow and a Master of Science candidate in global affairs at New York University.
Current City: Athens, Georgia
Undergraduate Institution: University of Georgia
Fulbright U.S. Student in Ecology – Sierra Leone, 2010-2011
In Sierra Leone, April conducted her doctoral research on the endangered and elusive pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis) on Tiwai Island, a wildlife sanctuary on the Moa River. Her research focused on using camera trap surveys to assess the hippo population. Since human livelihoods play a large role in the success of endangered species conservation, April was interested in human-wildlife conflicts and local attitudes towards wildlife, which she measured by administering surveys to rural village residents. Working with the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone, the Environmental Foundation for Africa, and the Across the River Transboundary Peace Park Project, April created conservation murals and conducted environmental education in local schools and communities to raise awareness about endangered species. April is a Ph.D. candidate and Peace Corps campus recruiter at the University of Georgia.
Current City: Washington, DC
Undergraduate Institution: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant – Colombia, 2011-2012
In Colombia, Emma served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at the Universidad Santiago de Cali and taught English conversation classes to teachers and students studying language and business. Outside of the classroom, Emma volunteered with a non-profit organization called Corporación Viviendo, which promotes community empowerment and conducts social work in the poorest neighborhoods of Cali. She also embraced Latin American culture by taking Latin dance classes each week. She lives in Washington, DC and works for the American Public Health Association.
Current City: Gainesville, Florida
Undergraduate Institution: Howard University
Fulbright U.S. Student in Archeology – Jamaica, 2009-2010
In Jamaica, Justin participated in an archaeological excavation on the University of the West Indies' Mona Plantation looking for the material effects of slavery and plantation life. His interest in the slave trade eventually led him to the university’s historical archives where he researched the trade’s lesser-known history between Madagascar and Jamaica. In addition to his academic research, Justin also volunteered at a local after-school program and went on to engage in a community development project in Portland Parish. Justin is currently a third-year graduate student at the University of Florida in the Department of Anthropology specializing in the archaeology of Africa and the African Diaspora.
Current City: Lubbock, Texas
Undergraduate Institution: Farmingdale State College
Fulbright U.S. Student in Engineering– Italy, 2010-2011
In Italy, Jared studied European design and construction methods as part of his graduate research. He focused his studies on bridges and also studied railways, asphalt and concrete pavements, and airport runways at the Politecnico di Torino in Turin, Italy. Upon his return to the United States, Jared completed his final coursework at The Polytechnic Institute of New York University to obtain a master’s degree in construction management. He also continued providing freelance consulting services in construction engineering, accounting, methods, and business. Jared is currently working as a Superintendent at Park7Group building apartment complexes.
Current City: Independence, Missouri
Undergraduate Institution: Park University
Fulbright U.S. Student in Business – Mexico, 2011-2012
In Mexico, Esther pursued master’s-level courses at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México and worked as the Human Resources Analyst for the United Nations Association in Mexico (AMNU). AMNU’s flagship program, Deport-es para Compartir (Sports for Sharing), is a civic and educational program aiming to form better citizens from childhood by encouraging children to become change agents at a local level. Her responsibilities included coordinating the program’s recruitment process, restructuring their employee performance evaluation, and creating the first Human Resources Policies and Procedures Manual. She enjoyed each opportunity to join the operations teams in the field working with children and education staff. She is currently a substitute teacher for the Independence, Missouri School District and continues to volunteer with Mid-America Head Start in initiatives such as parent leadership, community involvement, and financial literacy. Additionally, she partners with local community agencies and individuals to provide financial education and customized financial planning for middle class families.
Current City: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Undergraduate Institution: Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico
Fulbright U.S. Student in Environmental Studies – Brazil, 2010-2011
In a rural community west of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, Cristina Gauthier carried out research on renewable energy and sustainable solid waste management practices. She designed and built a biogas system, compost area and vegetable garden to provide alternative management of domestic organic waste and minimize inadequate local disposal practices such as burning, burial, or illegal landfilling. While developing her project, Cristina tutored local children by offering Basic English lessons and participated in daycare activities such as celebrating Earth Day. She works as an environmental engineer in Puerto Rico and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental sciences starting fall 2013.
Current City: Urbana, Illinois
Undergraduate Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Fulbright U.S. Student in Design – Mexico, 2011-2012
In Mexico City, Nancy worked as a humanitarian designer and youth educator. Focusing on writing and designing educational, didactic, and culturally relevant materials for high school students and pediatric cancer patients, she investigated ways in which social awareness and learning can be facilitated through play, visual expression, interaction, and experience. Splitting her time between a social design non-profit and a community youth center, she designed curriculum and led workshops that combined design, art, and social justice. Nancy is now working in the Illinois Public School System mentoring students and designing educational experiences and curriculum that support student explorations around social issues, diversity, and identity.
Current City: Madison, Wisconsin
Undergraduate Institution: Rice University
Fulbright U.S. Student in Physics – Argentina, 2009-2010
In Argentina, Zig conducted research on cosmic ray astrophysics with the Pierre Auger Observatory. He focused on the observatory's long-term performance and its effect on the sensitivity to cosmic ray sources. In addition to physics research, Zig was involved with a community service group in Bariloche that taught English to children in lower-income neighborhoods. Zig is a Ph.D. candidate in physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working on the HAWC Gamma-Ray Observatory near Puebla, Mexico.
Current City: Nashville, Tennessee
Undergraduate Institution: Middle Tennessee State University
Fulbright U.S. Student in Medicine Sciences – Germany, 2010-2011
In Germany, Kaitlen conducted medical and epidemiological research with neurological rehabilitation patients in a coma or with another decreased state of consciousness. She studied patients whose decreased consciousness was caused by global cerebral ischemia, traumatic brain injury, or subarachnoid hemorrhage, looking for predictors of long-term rehabilitation outcome and challenging the validity of a supposedly 100% failsafe predictor. Kaitlen collaborated with research teams at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and at a neurological rehabilitation center in a small village, Therapie-Zentrum-Burgau. Kaitlen also taught English to medical personnel and hosted American cultural events. Since returning home, Kaitlen has been working as a personal tutor and applying to medical schools.
Heather Michelle Hunt
Current City: Dallas, Texas
Undergraduate Institution: Southern Methodist University
Fulbright U.S. Student in Arabic Language and Literature – Egypt, 2011-2012
In Egypt, Heather studied both Modern Standard and Egyptian Colloquial Arabic to further her knowledge of Arabic language, Middle Eastern culture, traditions, and religion. During the fall semester, she studied at the Arabic Language Institute at the American University in Cairo (AUC), transferring to Al-Diwan Center in Maadi for the spring semester. She also volunteered as an English as a Second Language teacher (ESL) at AUC, helping Egyptians improve their knowledge of English and American culture. Heather believes that the Fulbright Program allowed her a unique opportunity to gain the necessary language skills to support her passion for fostering cultural exchange and mutual understanding between Americans and people of the Middle East. She maintains solid relationships with her teachers in Cairo and continues her Arabic studies with Al-Diwan Center via Skype. She is also a 2012 Gilman Alumni Ambassador.
Current City: Cincinnati, Ohio
Undergraduate Institution: At-Large
Fulbright U.S. Student in Archeology – Albania, 2011-2012
In Albania, Sarah Lima conducted research in affiliation with the Albanian Institute of Archaeology, the University of Tirana, and the Albanian Heritage Foundation. Her project combined archaeological and historical evidence, archival records, published reports, and museum references to create a Geographically Integrated System of Late Bronze Age settlement sites in southern and central Albania—in short, a digital gazetteer, or structured dictionary of geographical places. Lima used the gazetteer as a dynamic database to analyze settlement patterns and ceramic technologies for 3000-year-old Albanian archaeological sites. Her study concluded that between 1400 and 800 BCE, both southern Albanian and northern Greek communities were more connected than had been previously proposed, inviting reinterpretation of the idea that Late Prehistory was a time of isolation and transition in the region of ancient Epirus. Sarah also worked as a ceramic specialist on the Butrint-Mursi Archaeological Field Project in Ksamil, assisted in mentoring Albanian high school and college students through the American Corners-Tirana program, and helped with developing site management staff enrichment training sessions as a component of the pending Albanian UNESCO application for the Apollonia archaeological site. Lima received her master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and works as a Coordinator for Special Exhibits at the Cincinnati Museum Center.
Current City: Salt Lake City, Utah
Undergraduate Institution: University of Utah
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant – Bangladesh, 2011-2012
In Bangladesh, Todd served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Notre Dame College, an all-boys high school in the capital city of Dhaka. Todd taught regular curriculum courses as well as conversation and pronunciation. Outside of Notre Dame College, Todd was actively engaged with the U.S. Embassy’s American Center organizing workshops for both Bangla and English language teachers on language teaching methodology, and for students on critical-reading strategies and personal statements. Todd is currently applying to doctoral programs in linguistics and second language studies.
Current City: Bloomington, Indiana
Undergraduate Institution: University of Louisville
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant – Jordan, 2010-2011
While in Amman, Jordan, Shadea taught English to elementary and middle school students at Al-Ittihad School for Girls. She initiated a creative writing competition, helped students make informational videos, and used dramatic sketches during conversation hour. Additionally, she conducted preliminary video-ethnographic research on infrastructure developments in the city. Shadea is now pursuing a master’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University with concentrations in international development and policy analysis.
Current City: Pascagoula, Mississippi
Undergraduate Institution: University of Mississippi
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant – Germany, 2011-2012
In Germany, Deeneaus taught English at the Hans-Böckler-Schule (HBS), a trade school for students studying to become legal secretaries, tax accountants, and real estate agents in Frankfurt am Main. While at HBS, Deeneaus instructed a diverse group of students ranging from refugees to adult students. Outside of his teaching responsibilities, Deeneaus also organized an after school program for students seeking tutoring, homework assistance, or to simply talk about their day. In addition to his work at HBS, Deeneaus also worked for the Institut für Berufliche Bildung, a workforce and adult development organization. He played American football for the Frankfurt Pirates and sang with the Chor des Collegium musicum der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz. He also was a political commentator on the talk show Agenda. Deeneaus is currently engaged in community organizing in his home state of Mississippi and plans to pursue a joint MBA/MPP graduate degree in the near future.
Current City: Austin, Texas
Undergraduate Institution: Western Kentucky University
Fulbright U.S. Student in Public Health – China, 2011-2012
In China, Rachel investigated the effects of bilingualism on the social abilities of Chinese children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University. She found that bilingual Chinese children with ASD do not experience delays in language development when compared to their monolingual peers, and instead may possess strengths in social communication. Apart from her research, Rachel worked with the Guangzhou American Consulate and local non-governmental organizations to develop a mentorship pilot program to serve adolescents and young adults living with developmental disabilities in Guangzhou. Rachel is currently an MA/Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin where she is working to become a certified speech-language pathologist, while pursuing a Ph.D. focused on delineating the language acquisition process of bilingual children with ASD and other related developmental disabilities.
Current City: San Francisco, California
Undergraduate Institution: Boston University
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant – Rwanda, 2010-2011
In Rwanda, Jonathan lived and worked at ISAE-Busogo, an agricultural and horticultural university nestled in the foothills of the Virunga Volcano range. He conducted English and History lectures in the first year Rwanda shifted its national language from French to English. Thanks to the first collaboration of its kind, Jonathan participated in Peace Corps language training and studied Kinyarwanda intensively throughout his Fulbright grant. Doing so enabled him to research traditional Kinyarwanda poetry and oral history with students and professors at the National University of Rwanda, translating traditional archived texts from French and Kinyarwanda into English. At ISAE, he established a student film organization, volunteered in local schools to promote gender equality, and taught music to local street youth. Jonathan works in San Francisco in documentary film and as a professional poet mentor.
Marisa A. Rinkus
Current City: Lansing, Michigan
Undergraduate Institution: Purdue University
Fulbright U.S. Student in Environmental Studies – Brazil, 2010-2011
In Brazil, Marisa conducted her doctoral research on the relationship between social capital and sea turtle conservation. The purpose of her research was to better understand how to engage local communities in conservation by examining social structures and community-level participation. Marisa partnered with biologists and staff from the national sea turtle conservation program, Projeto TAMAR, at a monitoring station along the northern coast of the state of Bahia. In exchange for their support, she assisted staff in learning Basic English and volunteered at local events. During her time in Brazil, Marisa also spent time with Dr. Sónia Seixas at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) Núcleo de Estudos e Pesquisas Ambientais, where she presented her research to students and faculty. Marisa holds a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Science from Purdue University and a Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University.
Current City: Indianapolis, Indiana
Undergraduate Institution: St. Ambrose University
Fulbright U.S. Student in Design – Egypt, 2011-2012
In Egypt, Munir conducted research on Arabic calligraphy and typography which will lead to the creation of a modern Arabic typeface that reflects Arabic calligraphic traditions. His host affiliate, Dr. Moustafa Abdel-Rahim from Helwan University Faculty of Applied Arts, connected him with the master calligrapher, Moustafa Mohammed Emary. Emary taught Munir the ancient art of Arabic calligraphy and specifically, the Naskh script. Munir’s research explored Arabic letterforms in modern typography, the lost art of Arabic letterpress, and Egyptian graffiti. In addition to his research, Munir volunteered for Coptic Orphans as their event photographer.
Current City: Longmont, Colorado
Undergraduate Institution: University of Denver
Fulbright U.S. Student in Anthropology – Malawi, 2011-2012
In Malawi, Heather conducted her doctoral research on the creation of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) projects. These projects provide financial incentives for conserving existing forests in order to mitigate climate change, preserve biodiversity, and reduce poverty. Heather worked with community groups, non-governmental organizations, policy makers, and carbon development firms to document how REDD projects are being planned and implemented. Her work took her to some beautiful forests and national parks in northern Malawi, and even involved some very exciting close encounters with elephants. Heather also volunteered with a local community organization to help with grant writing efforts and to facilitate a letter exchange program for American and Malawian students. Heather is a Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University.