Bates College receives 15 offers of prestigious Fulbright Student awards
Fifteen Bates College seniors and young alumni have received offers of prestigious Fulbright Student awards for the coming 2018–19 academic year.
“I am so proud of the Bates seniors and recent graduates who have received these awards. Fellowships like the Fulbright demonstrate concretely that a Bates liberal arts education prepares students to be global citizens, equipped to pursue purposeful work anywhere in the world,” said President Clayton Spencer.
Story update: February 2019
Of the 15 Fulbright offers in May 2018, 13 awardees accepted the grants, placing Bates fourth in the U.S. for most Fulbright Student award among bachelor’s institutions for 2018-19.
“While we tend to focus on the outstanding individuals who win Fulbrights, their success depends on the deep engagement of Bates faculty and staff and a culture that emphasizes academic rigor, the power of experiential education, and the importance of social contribution.”
Meet the Fulbrights
View profiles and portraits of the seniors and young alumni who have received offers from the Fulbright U.S. Student program.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright is the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. The highly competitive program sends Americans to dozens of countries to teach, study, or conduct research, promoting cultural exchange and international understanding.
In the current Fulbright year, Bates is the No. 1 producer of Fulbright Student awards among U.S. liberal arts colleges and has received Fulbright “Top Producer” honors for the past seven years.
Five attributes of a Bates education drive the college’s Fulbright success, explains Robert Strong, director of national fellowships.
They are: extensive study abroad programs; community-engaged learning and teaching opportunities; the requirement of a senior thesis; robust faculty and staff mentoring; and intercultural exchange during study abroad and among the diverse Lewiston-Auburn community, which incorporates new residents from African nations.
“Most organizations that grant fellowships, like the Fulbright, have certain qualities they’re seeking,” Strong says. “They want leaders. They want citizens who are engaged in their communities. And they want global and intercultural awareness. And that’s Bates defined.”
Fulbright Student awards include Open Study/Research awards that fund self-designed projects and work with advisers at universities abroad, and English Teaching Assistant awards that place Fulbrighters in classrooms abroad.
For 2018–19, three of Bates’ awardees have been offered research grants, and 12 have been offered ETA awards. The awardees comprise 13 members of the graduating Class of 2018 and two young alumni.
Fulbright U.S. Student Awards: Seniors
Mary “Becca” Ferguson ’18 of North Andover, Mass., an environmental studies major and double minor in Chinese and anthropology, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Taiwan.
At Bates, Ferguson was a dean’s list student in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018. She held leadership roles with the college sailing team and was a member of the Outing Club. Her awards at Bates include Otis Scholarship funding for an environmental internship and a Barlow Enrichment Grant for study abroad.
Beginning at age 11 as a teaching assistant in ceramics, Ferguson has amassed teaching experience across a wide range of fields including teaching marine science at a Massachusetts Audubon Society sanctuary and English tutoring with Somali students in a Lewiston classroom.
Proficient in Chinese, Ferguson spent a semester studying in China during her time as a Bates student, conducting independent research into pottery techniques in Jianshui.
Also during that visit, she explains, “I lived in a rural village homestay with the Bai minority people for five days,” and helped her host family and others with farming. “This taught me that to get the most out of any cultural exchange, it’s important to get your hands dirty and never give up an opportunity to engage with the people around you.”
During her senior year in high school, her family hosted Taiwanese students, and Ferguson traveled to Taiwan with her Chinese language class. She has hoped to return to Taiwan ever since. A guitarist and singer, and someone passionate about exploring natural environments, Ferguson will seek ways to involve herself in her host community during her time in Taiwan. “I hope to learn more songs in Chinese and teach others my favorite songs in English,” she says.
Ferguson looks forward to having a role in the rapid change Taiwan is undergoing. Since her high school experience there, she says, “Taiwan’s English Proficiency Index has rapidly increased and people are learning English every day. I’d like to support this growth by teaching English to younger generations.”
Sophie Gardephe ’18 of New Rochelle, N.Y., a double major in English and politics, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Vietnam.
At Bates, Gardephe has been a peer writing tutor, a junior advisor and residence coordinator team leader, and a Dean’s List student. She has performed with the Bates Dance Company and sung with an a cappella ensemble.
Off campus, she has volunteered with the Volunteer Lawyers Project’s domestic violence clinic and has been a helpline volunteer for Safe Voices. She has also tutored in English at the Maine Correctional Center and Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services.
“What I love about tutoring is the challenge inherent in seeing a wide range of people, work, and perspectives,” she says, “and that rather than merely correcting spelling and grammatical errors, I need to tailor my strategy to give students recommendations specific to their needs.”
She adds, “Working with people from different backgrounds has taught me that when students feel ownership over their learning, they grow motivated to improve their skills and begin to access their full potential.”
Gardephe’s experiences abroad include study in Japan, volunteer work in Nicaragua, and travel to Hong Kong and Vietnam. “I’m drawn to the ETA in Vietnam in part,” she says, “because I’ve learned from former ETAs that the program is very immersive and allows ETAs to acquire a greater knowledge of the rich history and traditions of Vietnam.”
Gardephe applied to the Fulbright program in hopes of “extending my passion for human connection, teaching, and learning about other cultures.” In Vietnam she hopes to facilitate “English Tables” where people of all ages can come practice their English-speaking skills over a meal. She also plans to extend her English teaching beyond the classroom by tutoring adults in the community.
Upon returning to the U.S., Gardephe plans to attend law school and continue to explore her interest in education. She is excited about obtaining an international perspective that will strengthen her ability to engage with diverse viewpoints and enhance her knowledge of foreign policy.
Katherine Hartnett ’18 of St. Paul, Minn., a neuroscience major, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Malaysia.
At Bates, Hartnett has been a peer writing assistant, a captain of the women’s ultimate Frisbee team, and a member of the Outing Club. She has been a dean’s list student and received a Bates civic fellowship award that supported a summer of volunteering at a local health clinic. Hartnett also served as a tutoring assistant in neuroscience and, off campus, tutored at a local center for underserved youth.
Hartnett has traveled extensively in Western Europe. While studying in Rome in a Temple University program in 2017, Hartnett taught English to local students while taking classes in Italian to immerse herself more deeply in local language and culture.
“I was able to learn from my students what no textbook could have taught me about Italian culture,” she says. “I was able to bring home a better understanding of the world through their perspective.”
In Rome, she says, “I learned to be patient, creative, and to really listen to the needs of my class. I’ll use these skills to create an interesting and exciting classroom environment in Malaysia.”
Hartnett adds, “What draws me to Malaysia is its diversity in people, cultures, and landscapes. I’m interested to see first-hand how different peoples influence Malaysian culture.” She hopes to parlay her experiences coaching Frisbee and leading outdoor adventures into a deeper relationship with her community. Hartnett also hopes to continue her public health work by volunteering in a clinic.
“Teaching is not only about helping students to learn facts — it’s about forming connections with others and learning through engagement,” Hartnett continues. She is confident that her Fulbright experience will afford a global perspective that will enhance her understanding of people from diverse backgrounds.
Once back in the U.S., Hartnett plans to attend medical school and to work as a physician and health educator.
Matthew Johnson ’18 of Linwood, N.J., a double major in art and visual studies and in European studies, and a minor in German language and culture, was offered a combined Fulbright research grant and English Teaching Assistant award for Austria.
Johnson has earned dean’s list honors throughout his Bates career and is a Dana Scholar. A pianist and trumpeter, he has performed with the college orchestra and jazz band. He served as an intern at the Bates College Museum of Art, and held additional internships at museums and galleries including the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
As a Fulbright Fellow, he will extend his Bates senior thesis research concerning artists exiled from Austria between 1938 and 1945. In particular, he’ll examine “how the trauma of displacement affected their stylistic development as it was represented in their artwork.”
Johnson will work in affiliation with the University of Applied Arts Vienna and the Jewish Museum Vienna. His research reflects the emergence, particularly following the 50th anniversary of the Anschluss — Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria — of a larger discussion between American and Austrian cultural institutions concerning the legacy and revival of these émigré artists.
Johnson will also teach English at a local secondary school, and he intends to incorporate American art into his curriculum as a means of conveying cultural and linguistic concepts. “I’m excited to be a cultural ambassador to the young Austrians I interact with, and to share an appreciation of American culture, literature, music, and way of life,” he says.
Johnson plans to immerse himself in the community outside the classroom by joining a local band or orchestra, as well as by offering free trumpet and piano lessons to children.
Johnson’s research will support his attainment of a master’s degree in the history of art and architecture, with a focus on modern Austrian art. “My ambition is to become a museum curator and educator, with the ultimate goal of becoming a museum director,” he explains. “I will also continue to reflect upon my Fulbright research project and facilitate conversations between my contacts in Austrian and American museums.”
Julia Juenemann ’18 of Bethesda, Md., a psychology major and minor in educational studies, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Laos.
At Bates, Juenemann acted as the community liaison for the ’Cats Against Cancer awareness-raising initiative and was a member of the Bates Cycling Club, the Photography Club, and the Outing Club. In the community, she served as an aide in a special education classroom, an after-school program coordinator at Lewiston High School, and a tutor at an affordable housing facility, and she helped English language learners with job skills at Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services.
“As an educational studies minor, I’ve worked on my teaching skills in the community with students from many different backgrounds and of varied ages,” she says. “I’m thrilled by the prospect of bringing my positive attitude and cross-cultural teaching experiences to a new group of students in Laos.”
In 2017 Juenemann traveled to Vietnam, South Africa, and Argentina on a School for International Training program, learning about global inequalities in public health based on cultural, socioeconomic, and geographical contexts.
Juenemann looks forward to sharing her own wide-ranging experiences with her students in Laos, and to learning from them and the community at large about Laotian culture and history. She’ll extend her teaching outside the classroom by volunteering as an English tutor for students who need additional help and people who can’t afford classes. Eager to parlay her love of the outdoors into a nontraditional opportunity for teaching and learning, she hopes to join or create a hiking or biking club.
Juenemann plans to apply the knowledge gained from her Fulbright experience in English-learner settings in the United States. She believes her time in Laos will reinforce her ability to make a difference for immigrants from diverse backgrounds. She hopes to maintain contact with her students in Laos, and to forge meaningful connections between them and her students in the U.S.
Grace Jurkovich ’18 of St. Paul, Minn., a double major in politics and in women and gender studies, and a Spanish minor, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Spain.
At Bates, Jurkovich was an admission tour guide, a member and senior captain of the women’s rowing team (which won national championships in 2016 and 2017), and a dean’s list student in 2015 and 2017. She has served as a reading tutor and college access mentor in local schools, and as the garden and social enterprise coordinator for a Lewiston nonprofit that supports women overcoming adverse circumstances.
While studying in Madrid in 2016, Jurkovich immersed herself in the local culture, living with a host family, working as an English-language tutor for local kids, and pledging to speak only Spanish outside of tutoring sessions. She traveled to Guatemala in 2012, living and working at a local orphanage as part of a volunteer program.
“I have been formally learning Spanish for 16 years, determined to master the language,” Jurkovich says. “I’ve found culturally immersive activities and role-playing scenarios to be an effective and engaging way to teach, so I plan to bring such strategies to my ETA classroom.
“Whether it’s interpreting lyrics to popular English-language songs or asking students to improvise scenarios of daily interactions, I plan to keep English-language lessons compelling and relevant.”
Outside the classroom, Jurkovich hopes to get involved in community gardening as a powerful way to connect across cultural boundaries. Interested in women’s justice, she’s also interested in volunteering with organizations that work to “empower and support women and/or non-binary-identifying people.”
After her Fulbright experience, Jurkovich hopes to work at a nonprofit organization that offers interpretation and support services to Spanish-speaking English language learners. “I’ll use my Spanish skills and Fulbright experience to assist people who face challenges as recent immigrants,” she says. “A greater worldview from my experience abroad will allow me to be understanding and compassionate towards those who face language barriers or lack access to social supports.”
Cole Limbach ’18 of Los Altos, Calif., a double major in politics and philosophy and a German minor, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Germany.
Limbach has been a member of Bates’ Brooks Quimby Debate Council, a longstanding and highly successful program, throughout his four years at the college. He traveled with the team to the United Kingdom, Canada, and the Netherlands for competitions against schools from all over the world, including Oxford, Cambridge, and Leiden.
“My interest in politics gained new life when I joined the debate team,” Limbach says. “I felt myself learning more about everything — I debated topics in science, philosophy, economics, literature, and things I sometimes knew very little about. I got to attend large tournaments like the World Universities Debating Championships and to meet a variety of bright people from around the globe.”
Limbach was a class representative to the Bates Student Government from 2014 to 2016, and earned dean’s list academic honors in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
In 2017 Limbach studied in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. In Freiburg, Germany, he worked as an English teaching assistant. “I had a wonderful experience teaching at a Gymnasium [high school] in Germany,” he says. Through this and other teaching experiences, he adds, “I’ve come to appreciate the complexity of teaching and the unique challenges that it brings.
“This is the perspective that I will bring to my Fulbright year.”
In Germany, Limbach will tap his experience in debate to help motivate his students, keep them focused, and to teach them patience. He looks forward to resuming the kind of cultural exchanges he enjoyed during his previous teaching stint there. “I try to represent the diversity in American culture, not just my own set of cultural experiences,” he says.
After his Fulbright experience, Limbach looks forward to a career in international law, with an emphasis on human rights issues. He says, “I have high hopes that my Fulbright experience will connect me with new colleagues and friends who can help develop my global perspective.”
Julia Nemy ’18 of San Francisco, a double major in French and Francophone studies and in environmental studies, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Rwanda.
At Bates, Nemy has been a member of the women’s cross country and track team all four years, earning All New England Honors. She was a dean’s list student in 2017 and 2018.
Nemy has been a translator or ELL tutor for the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Program, Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services, the Djibouti Community Association, and the Immigrant Resource Center of Maine, where she co-created and led a conversational English class.
“The most important role of an ELL teacher is to create an environment of balance where students feel comfortable making mistakes, yet motivated to keep practicing,” Nemy says. “Letting students know that you believe in their intelligence is crucial in building confidence and strong language skills.”
Nemy has traveled extensively. In high school, she took part in cultural exchanges in Switzerland and France, and volunteered in schools and orphanages in Moldova, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. As a Bates student, she researched agricultural practices in Madagascar for a semester in 2016, and studied French in Senegal in 2017.
A longtime student of the French language and Francophone cultures, Nemy dedicated her Bates senior thesis to creating an oral history project focusing on Lewiston’s Djiboutian community. “To me, learning a language is like being able to fly or see through walls,” she says. “French has expanded my view of the world and shown me life outside of America.”
This summer, as a Sustainability Fellow with the University of New Hampshire, she will work with African immigrant communities in South Providence, R.I., in establishing a farmers market.
As Rwanda is currently transitioning its official language from French to English, Nemy is excited about helping her students improve their English skills during her Fulbright year. Outside the classroom, she will continue her commitment to running by joining a local group to train for the Kigali International Peace Marathon next May.
After her Fulbright experience, Nemy will pursue a master’s degree in international development, focusing on sustainability.
Caroline O’Reilly ’18 of Longmeadow, Mass., a Spanish major and education studies minor, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Spain.
A member of the women’s field hockey team, O’Reilly was recognized for leadership on the team in 2015 and 2016. Off campus, O’Reilly has served as an ESL tutor for Maine Immigrant and Refugee Services and as a teaching assistant in a local elementary school. She was a special education teaching aide in Longmeadow schools in summer 2016, and taught middle-school students in Holyoke, Mass., as a Generation Teach fellow in summer 2017.
In 2017 O’Reilly spent a semester studying in Spain, immersing herself in the culture and Spanish language. She lived with a host family, took university courses, and interned as an English teaching assistant at an elementary school.
“A classroom tactic I found helpful was demonstrating my desire to learn about my students’ culture,” she says. “By encouraging them to speak to me in English about their lives, I aimed to create a classroom culture in which they felt more comfortable asking me questions.”
During her time in Spain, O’Reilly walked the famous Camino de Santiago. It proved to be a transformational episode. “I became much more aware of my actions and the importance of connecting with new people, which is a characteristic I now introduce into my everyday life,” she explains.
Outside her regular teaching, O’Reilly will volunteer in after-school programs for students with learning differences. She will draw on research, conducted for her senior thesis at Bates, comparing special education programs in Spain and the U.S.
Upon returning to the U.S., O’Reilly plans to pursue a master’s degree in ESL teaching. She believes her experience during the Fulbright opportunity will help her better connect with students learning English in the U.S. “Because I’ll be able to relate to being in a foreign country filled with different traditions and cultural norms,” she says, “I’ll be better able to help my students feel more at ease and comfortable learning a new language.”
Jonathan Reid ’18 of Dallas, a philosophy major and a chemistry and Asian studies minor, was offered an English Teaching Assistant Award for Poland.
At Bates, Reid has been a peer writing assistant and a residence coordinator. He’s a member of the men’s rowing team, which recently won its second consecutive NESCAC championship title. He has been a dean’s list student throughout his Bates career, was recognized as a Bates Scholar-Athlete, and received NESCAC All Academic Honors.
In 2017, Reid worked as an intern for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Earth System Research Lab. “I integrated Science On a Sphere, a planetary science visualization tool, into K-12 curriculums,” he explains. It was a valuable experience in teaching: “My enthusiasm dissipated as I confronted sea after sea of glazed-over eyes,” Reid says.
“I spent the next week tailoring my discussions to engage different age groups. The reinvigorated student response was palpable, and I was thrilled to realize the rewards of creating stimulating lessons designed to meet their needs.”
With a lifelong passion for, and broad academic background in, the STEM disciplines, Reid will teach English to Polish post-secondary STEM students during his Fulbright year. “I’m eager to explore all aspects of my ethnic roots in Poland,” he adds, “including culinary, social, and religious traditions.”
Reid used the opportunity of the NOAA internship to drive from the East to Boulder, Colo. “The experience of seeing a large swath of the country was awe-inspiring, and understanding the people behind the ‘American’ label was both humbling and life-altering,” he says. “I’m exuberant about becoming an ambassador for my country as I head to Poland to experience a new society and culture.”
Outside the classroom, Reid plans to take in the scenic European countryside, take cooking classes to learn local cuisine, and learn more about the intellectual history and current political climate of Poland.
After his Fulbright year, Reid expects to continue teaching in the U.S. while pursuing a graduate degree.His ultimate goal is to teach at the university level.
Stephen Rowe ’18 of Gambier, Ohio, a politics major and German minor, was offered a combined Fulbright research and English Teaching Assistant grant for Austria.
For the research component of his Fulbright experience, Rowe will investigate European attitudes and approaches to security infrastructure, and possible impacts of changes on foreign and defense policy, in the face of uncertainty about America’s commitments to NATO.
In addition to independent research, he will take graduate-level courses in political science at the University of Innsbruck and attend the university’s interdisciplinary research center dedicated to the study of governance.
Rowe explains, “I’ll research how any new European-led security architecture will affect European integration and the political position of smaller states such as Austria. In particular, I’ll examine ways Europe may respond to this new security challenge and how these responses could affect Austria’s military neutrality and its external relations.”
For his yearlong honors thesis at Bates, Rowe explored how removing terrorist leaders affects the lethality of terrorist organizations. He has served as a senior Admission Fellow and tour guide, and was a dean’s list student from 2014 to 2017. He has been a member of the men’s cross country and track teams, and was recognized as a NESCAC Scholar-Athlete.
In the fall of 2015, Rowe studied in Germany. He has undertaken extensive independent travel in Western and Central Europe.
As an English teaching assistant in Austria, he says, “I’ll work to recreate the experiences that helped me the most in learning German by holding conversation-based classes. I’ll keep lessons fun and engaging by incorporating American pop culture. And I’ll create a classroom environment where my students will feel comfortable making mistakes and taking risks.”
Outside the classroom, he hopes to get involved in his community by joining a local running organization. He looks forward to engaging in discussions on foreign policy and current events in Austria.
Upon his return to the U.S., Rowe plans to pursue a career in international relations with the U.S. Foreign Service or another multilateral institution.
Fulbright U.S. Student Awards: Young alumni
Francis Cheng ’15 of San Leandro, Calif., a psychology major and education minor, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Taiwan.
Throughout his time at Bates, Cheng volunteered as a math and English-language tutor in local schools. He was a dean’s list student in 2012 and 2015, and was inducted into the College Key for leadership in academic and extracurricular work in 2015. Also during his Bates career, Cheng studied in Spain and Denmark, and taught in Malawi and Ethiopia.
He co-founded the student club Asian American Students in Action and served as its president for two semesters. The club, he notes, provides “a way for students to discuss issues of identity, where we come from, how we see ourselves in the world, and what it’s like to be a minority on campus.”
After Bates, Cheng earned a master’s degree in education from Johns Hopkins University. While working toward his master’s, Cheng taught math to eighth-graders, most of them English-language learners, in Oakland, Calif., through Teach For America.
His education has shown him, Cheng says, that “teaching as a transformational leader, personalizing curriculum to fit students’ needs, and building strong rapport with students is equally as important as direct instruction.”
Cheng looks forward to bringing his experiences as an math teacher and international educator to Taiwan. He plans to start an English film or cultural club at the school in which he is placed, providing a casual space for his students to practice their English comprehension skills and to compare American and Taiwanese cultures.
After his Fulbright year, Cheng will resume teaching in the U.S. The Taiwan experience “will allow me to bring a new perspective on Taiwanese culture to my future students and to expand their understanding of diversity in a global scale,” he says.
Cheng plans to stay in touch with his Taiwanese students and hopes to build connections between them and his American students, allowing them to “learn from each other’s differences and experience the joy of meeting different people.”
Noah Riskind ’16 of Bethesda, Md., an economics major and Spanish minor, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Colombia.
A member of the varsity soccer team for all four of his years at Bates, Riskind served as captain for two years and earned a First Captain’s Award, as well as Bates’ George L. Wigton Scholar Athlete Award.
A Spanish-language learner from sixth through 12th grades and again at Bates, Riskind studied in Valencia, Spain, for four months in 2015. He lived with a host family and, through the University of Valencia, took part in an “intercambio” program in which he partnered with a local student, giving each an opportunity to improve their skills in the other’s native tongue.
Riskind, a dean’s list student at Bates in 2012, has taught seventh-grade math in Massachusetts through the Teach For America program. He will complete a master’s degree in education at Boston University this summer.
In Colombia, he says, “I look forward to creating a safe classroom environment in which students are pushed to do their best thinking and everyone is able to learn while experiencing joy.”
Riskind has extensive soccer coaching experience in Maryland, Maine, and Massachusetts, where he is currently coaching the St. Michael Youth Soccer Club in his current home of New Bedford. In Colombia he plans to connect with his community outside the classroom by volunteering for soccer programs.
After his Fulbright year, says Riskind, “I’ll be excited to use what I learn in Colombia to be an effective mentor in either a coaching or teaching role when I return to the U.S.
“I would love to return to New England and find a way to fuse my passions for mentoring, the outdoors, and sport in order to help children of all backgrounds follow their passions and learn to be great people.”
Fulbright offers not accepted
Two Bates seniors were offered Fulbright grants, but chose not to accept:
Caroline Andy ’18 of Concord, N.H., a biochemistry major and minor in public health, was offered an Open Study/Research award for a public health project in Brazil.
Sophia Merelas ’18 of Pelham, N.Y., a psychology major and minor in educational studies and in Spanish, was offered an English Teaching Assistant award for Spain.