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For eighth year running, USC earns top honors for producing Fulbright students

Fourteen USC students received the prestigious grant to study and conduct research overseas.

Fulbright Scholars USC
Fulbright students in this year's cohort from USC are teaching or studying across the globe. (Illustration/K Selnick, iStock)

USC has been named a top producer of U.S. Fulbright students for the eighth year in a row.

Through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, award winners receive a one-year grant to study, conduct research or teach English around the world. Fourteen USC students, including one at-large applicant, were selected for the honor in the 2019-2020 award cycle.

“One of our important missions at USC is to educate and create global leaders and citizens of the world — and that’s exactly what the U.S. Fulbright Student Program is designed to do,” said USC Provost Charles F. Zukoski. “The international exchange program allows our students to study, research and learn across the world while promoting mutual understanding and enhancing cultural exchange.”

Institutions with the most Fulbright recipients are lauded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and highlighted each year in The Chronicle of Higher Education. With this year’s cohort of grant winners, USC ranks among the top research institutions throughout the United States.

While working, studying, conducting research or teaching English, Fulbright students live with locals in their host country. Here are USC’s most recent Fulbright recipients, all of whom graduated with bachelor’s degrees in 2019 unless otherwise noted.

USC Fulbright students teach English, study history, education, medicine and more

Kylie Burdsall holds a degree in biochemistry and a minor in cultural competence in medicine from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She is studying type 1 diabetes at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and hopes to devise new preventive strategies to combat the disease. She plans to apply to dual MD/PhD programs after her Fulbright.

Hanna Fahsholtz majored in narrative studies at USC Dornsife and completed minors in international relations and Spanish. She is teaching English in Spain, where she also leads students in a yearlong project similar to Model United Nations. She is interested in different approaches to education worldwide and hopes to use her knowledge to improve educational policy in the United States.

Rebecca Harbeck earned a degree in sociology from USC Dornsife and minored in law and public policy. She received a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in Taiwan, after which she plans to pursue doctoral research focused on educational inequality.

Jonathan Horwitz graduated with a degree in political economy from USC Dornsife and minors in Spanish, statistics and urban and sustainable planning. Through the Fulbright Binational Business Internship Program in Mexico City, he is working with a management consulting firm while taking graduate-level courses in international business at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. He wants to pursue a career in law and public policy focused on the environment and water scarcity.

Rafael Maarek studied biomedical engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and is completing a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in the Czech Republic. After gaining a better understanding of global engineering education through the Fulbright program, he plans to pursue a career in biomedical innovation.

Dillon McKinley graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering from USC Viterbi. He received a Fulbright research grant to study colorectal cancer in the Czech Republic. He envisions attending medical school to specialize in oncology, with a long-term goal of working in an underserved community.

Marta Olson graduated in 2016 with dual degrees in music from the USC Thornton School of Music and narrative studies from USC Dornsife. She was awarded a Fulbright English teaching assistant grant in Argentina this spring, where she will instruct students at a teacher training college, study music and collaborate with local musicians to learn more about the country’s musical style and traditions.

Sydney Park completed a degree in international relations at USC Dornsife and is serving as an English teaching assistant in a secondary school in Spain. She plans to pursue a career in the legal profession, focused on resolving international disputes.

Luann Raposo earned her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering with an emphasis on mechanical engineering and a master’s in product development engineering at USC Viterbi. She received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Spain, where she is pursuing her passion for education, encouraging curiosity in her students and creating a STEM outreach program for students and parents. She wants to specialize in medical device technology after completing her Fulbright.

Emily Rauch studied international relations with a focus on global business at USC Dornsife before receiving a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in Taiwan. She plans to pursue a career in law and international policy.

Amri Rigby completed his degree in arts, technology and the business of innovation at the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy. As an at-large applicant, he received a Fulbright Creative & Performing Arts grant to write a feature film script based on a true story in Kampala, Uganda. He hopes to secure financing to direct his first feature film after completing the Fulbright program.

Marla Ross earned her degree in cognitive science from USC Dornsife and minored in Spanish and teaching English to speakers of other languages. She is teaching English to university students in Colombia, where she is also encouraging cross-cultural awareness. She wants to specialize in higher education administration, with a focus on international exchange and foreign language programs.

Alanna Schenk studied international relations at USC Dornsife with a minor in human security and geospatial intelligence. Her Fulbright study grant took her to Denmark to enroll in Aalborg University, where she is completing a master’s degree in European studies with an Arctic specialization. Her graduate coursework focuses on Danish society, its politics and its relationship with the Arctic. Schenk is also researching ways to improve interactions among private industry, policymakers and indigenous communities in Greenland, and she envisions a career centered on U.S.-Arctic relations.

Minerva Solís-Rubio graduated from USC in 2017 with degrees in international relations and Spanish from USC Dornsife with a focus on human security and public policy in Latin America. She is completing the Fulbright Binational Business Internship in Mexico City, which involves social entrepreneurship, impact investing and international development for a U.S.-Mexico company. The first-generation college student is also enrolled in international business courses at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. She plans to pursue a career in social entrepreneurship and international development.

USC offers support, advice to Fulbright students and other grant applicants

Nearly all of USC’s Fulbright student recipients sought assistance with their application from experts at USC Academic Honors and Fellowships. The office helps USC students seek competitive fellowships and other prestigious programs, providing advice, essay reviews and mock evaluations to help them prepare for interviews. Applicants to the Fulbright U.S. Student program must have completed a bachelor’s degree before beginning their grant project.

The Fulbright program was created to improve understanding between the people of the United States and those in other countries. It is primarily funded through Congress via the U.S. Department of State, which awards grants to more than 2,200 U.S. students each year. The program is active in more than 160 countries around the world.


To learn more about Fulbright students from USC, follow their experiences in the program on Instagram. More news about other academic awards and fellowships at USC is available on Facebook and Twitter.

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For eighth year running, USC earns top honors for producing Fulbright students

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