Fourteen exceptional USC students and recent graduates have been selected to receive Fulbright U.S. Student Grants, awarded for academic achievement and commitment to cultural engagement.
Their grants will take them across the globe, to Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Senegal, South Korea, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
USC has been recognized as among the top 40 research institutions in the United States to cultivate Fulbright Student Grant recipients, according to the Fulbright Program, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program.
Established in 1946 and sponsored by the U.S. States Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Fulbright is the largest international fellowship program in the U.S. Each year, about 2,000 grants are given to support independent study, research and teaching in more than 150 countries worldwide.
Meet the latest USC Fulbright Student Grant recipients.
Peter Bergmann ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Science in economics/mathematics from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He will serve as an English teaching assistant in Taiwan and plans to pursue a career in social enterprise and impact investing in East Asia.
“I look forward to not only working directly with elementary age students in the classroom to improve their English and view of Western culture but forming a bond with them through extracurricular clubs and activities,” he said. “My goal is to gain a deeper awareness of the benefits and drawbacks of the Taiwanese educational system as I seek to start my career in East Asia.”
Carolyn Choi is a USC Dornsife doctoral student in sociology. Based at Ehwa Women’s University in Seoul, she will conduct fieldwork in the South Korean capital and in other provinces on the country’s nationalism and youth return migration.
“As a second generation Korean-American, I am most excited about going back to my parents’ homeland and learning about a different part of the Korean diaspora,” she said. “I hope to bring critical light to the privatized expansion of international education and its implications on South Korean migrant youth across class, gender and regional divides.”
Mary Coates ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics and minors in German at USC Dornsife and teaching English to speakers of other languages at USC Rossier School of Education. She is the recipient of an English teaching assistantship in Germany.
“I’m looking forward to engaging with students as well as the wider community,” she said. “I hope I can bring my own positive experiences learning a foreign language to the students I interact with and continue broadening my own language and cultural knowledge in the process.”
Julianna Coleman ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Arts in French and a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience from USC Dornsife. She received a research grant to Senegal to work with families of children with disabilities at the university hospital in Dakar and at two schools. She will illuminate sociocultural factors shaping the role of family in caring for a child with a disability. She hopes to pursue a career as a physician, incorporating the intersection of medicine and culture.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to Senegal following my Maymester in Dakar in 2017,” she said. “I will be researching the medical and educational resources available to children with disabilities and their families, as well as the sociocultural perception of disability.”
Charles Junkins ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Arts in global studies from USC Dornsife and a Bachelor of Arts in theatre (acting) from USC School of Dramatic Arts. Selected as an English teaching assistant, he will work in Malaysia, incorporating drama and personal storytelling into his lessons. He plans to pursue a career as an actor.
“Although I am not Muslim myself, I am driven to better understand this faith, which suffers intolerance in America, and living in Malaysia is a chance to leave the classroom and experience how people live this faith in a nation, community and school unfamiliar to me,” he said. “By living there and learning about Malaysian racial awareness, I hope to gain insights, draw parallels or see differences to understand and improve race relations in my country through my art in the theater.”
Max Kapur ’18 graduated May 11 with a bachelor of arts in East Asian languages and cultures from USC Dornsife and a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies from USC Thornton School of Music. He will begin a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship at the elementary-school level in South Korea.
“I’m looking forward to introducing my students to jazz music and its unique history,” he said. “My work on cross-cultural pedagogy here at USC has also taught me the pitfalls of a one-sided approach to cultural exchange.”
Natalia Lauricella is working toward a PhD in art history at USC Dornsife. She will spend the 2018–19 academic year in Paris where she will conduct archival research for her dissertation focused on the master lithographers who worked with avant-garde painters in France in the late 19th century. After completing her PhD, she plans to work as a museum curator.
“My project aims to expand our ideas about collaboration, labor, and attribution in the history of modern art, which has typically privileged the singular figure of the artist,” she said.
Aditi Ramesh ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Science in economics/mathematics from USC Dornsife. She received a Fulbright research grant in Baroda, India, where she will be designing a culturally-sensitive civic education program to inform the intersection of Indian and American acts of civic participation.
“Through my Fulbright, I aim to better understand civic engagement initiatives within India and utilize my findings to design a culturally-sensitive civic education program within schools that will blend well with existing school curricula,” she said of her project, which she hopes will provide a model for future civic education programs.
Felicitas Reyes ’17 holds a Bachelor of Arts in American studies and ethnicity and a minor in Spanish from USC Dornsife. She will serve as an English teaching assistant in Mexico, where she hopes to create an after-school literacy program for children in the community.
“I hope this program makes it easier for them to get access to books and other reading materials,” she said. “Overall, I am looking forward to the learning exchanges between my students, the community, and myself.”
Alejandro Schugurensky ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from USC Dornsife and minors in spatial studies from USC Dornsife and education and society from USC Rossier. He was awarded a Fulbright research grant in Brazil, where he will examine the impact of Brazilian social policies on education access and equity. He will enroll at Princeton University in fall 2019 for a PhD program in sociology and hopes to pursue a career in sociological research, focusing on issues in education and social stratification.
“Through my Fulbright grant to Brazil, I aim to make a significant contribution to policies, programs and interventions that reduce educational and social inequalities,” he said. “Moreover, I hope that the research I conduct will inform policy changes inside and outside the region so that all students have the opportunity to receive a quality post-secondary education. I am excited by the incredible opportunity to conduct research with experts in Brazil, and I plan to build upon my work when I begin my doctoral studies in sociology the year after.”
Geetha Somayajula ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Arts in choral music from USC Thornton and a Bachelor of Science in business administration from USC Marshall School of Business. She will travel to South India to study the pedagogy, practice and performance of South Indian classical music in contemporary educational settings. Through her research, she hopes to create more inclusive and multicultural music education spaces in the United States.
“I am passionate about diversity and inclusion, and I am pursuing this project because I would love to see more multiculturalism in music classrooms,” she said. “People don’t really know how to perform Indian music correctly because there are not many scholars, especially in the choral field, who have that kind of experience. I want to fill in that gap and be a leader in that field when I return from my research project.”
Hannah Thomas ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Science in global health and a minor in Spanish from USC Dornsife. She received a research grant to Ecuador where she will study intimate partner violence using an intersectional approach. She hopes to pursue a career as a physician-scientist, focusing on health issues that cross international borders.
“Through my project, I hope to bring attention to invisibilized narratives of intimate partner violence (IPV) survivors,” she said. “I want to highlight the diverse and intersecting identities of women who experience IPV to inform policy both locally and, hopefully one day, globally.”
Rachel Udabe ’18 graduated May 11 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science from USC Dornsife, a bachelor of science in public policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy and a minor in education and society from USC Rossier. Interested in Eastern versus Western education systems, she will serve as an English teaching assistant in Taiwan and plans to enter education policy.
“Because I believe a good education is the foundation for opportunity, I hope to work toward a world in which every child can have the resources they need to succeed,” she said.
Sophie Wix ’17 holds a Bachelor of Arts in health and the human sciences from USC Dornsife. She is the first Trojan to be awarded one of two Open Study Awards to the United Kingdom where she will pursue a research-based masters in medical science at the University of Cambridge. There she will study under the world’s leading researcher in breast cancer genomics at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute.
“As an aspiring global leader in the field of cancer, I believe the Fulbright is an unparalleled opportunity for me to contribute to cutting-edge breast cancer research as well as engage with scientists across the UK to build relationships for future collaborations in bioscience,” she said. “In my life, I hope to develop precision medical tools to address unmet clinical needs and improve cancer care on a global scale.”