Global scholar earns Fulbright Grant
Graduating senior Michael Shashoua exemplifies the kind of globally minded scholar the USC Marshall School of Business and the USC School of International Relations encourage in the university’s joint program focusing on business administration and international relations. Shashoua’s academic accomplishments here and abroad resulted in a USC Global Scholar prize and a Fulbright grant to pursue research in Spain.
The Global Scholars program, administered by the USC Office of Undergraduate Programs, recognizes students who have spent at least 10 weeks outside the United States as part of their undergraduate experience and earned a GPA of 3.5 or better. Of the 16 graduating scholars who were selected as prize finalists by their school, Shashoua was one of 10 nominated to receive $10,000 for graduate study. He hopes to pursue a doctorate in economics and perhaps eventually work for the United Nations (U.N.).
During his time at USC, Shashoua traveled to Beijing as part of USC Marshall’s Global Leadership Program (GLP); served as an intern at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; spent a semester abroad at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain; and visited Cuba as part of USC Marshall’s International Experiential Corporate Learning program. Those experiences led to his capstone paper for the Global Scholars prize: “A review of the economic choices that have achieved or limited prosperity in Spain, Cuba and China.”
“My study abroad was an eye-opener,” Shashoua said. “I’m from Texas originally, and I didn’t do much traveling. My dad is from Israel, so I’m a first-generation American on my dad’s side. I’ve always been fascinated by the international sphere.”
Shashoua became interested in microfinance during a weeklong visit to the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, during his semester abroad. With the help of three USC Provost’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships throughout his undergraduate career, he did research on the topic. For the first project, he approached Carl Voigt, professor of clinical management and organization at USC Marshall, whom he had met through the GLP trip, to be his adviser.
“Professor Voigt was really supportive the whole time and became a mentor to me,” Shashoua said. “It was really from there that all these other opportunities came about. For all these great opportunities, I really owe him a lot.”
In a bid to continue his studies in microfinance, Shashoua applied for and received a research grant from the Fulbright International Educational Exchange program. He will spend a year in Spain, where his host affiliations will be the Autonomous University of Madrid and FICO, the nation’s official credit agency.
“My research will be exploring the access to finance for small and medium cooperatives, including the use of microfinance for financial and social inclusion,” Shashoua explained. “On the microfinance front, I will also be working with the Spanish government to create efficient legislation and best practices for microfinance institutions. The goal is to supplement the power of microfinance in developed countries and establish microfinance as a tool against the severe economic situation in Spain.”
Though Fulbright grants are competitive, Shashoua believes he stood out because of his research at USC and recommendations from Voigt; the economist who supervised his U.N. internship; and Richard Reeves, senior lecturer at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and a former chief political correspondent at The New York Times, with whom he had done research as part of his minor.
While these academic honors are impressive, Shashoua also was proud to mention that the USC water polo team of which he was a member won four consecutive championships, a first for any collegiate water polo program. “That’s pretty exciting, too,” he said.