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Looking Ahead to Global Experiences

Five Montclair State students and alumni named Fulbright semi-finalists and four students earn national scholarships to study abroad

Posted in: Graduate School, Homepage News, University

Photo collage of Fulbright 2021 semifinalists from Montclair State University
Fulbright semi-finalists, clockwise from top left, Blenda Alexandre, Emily Ip, Archana Prasad, Alyssa Clauhs and Carmen Rosario.

With five Fulbright semi-finalists and four recently named winners of other competitive national scholarships, Montclair State students and alumni are poised to pack their bags for studying, teaching and conducting research abroad when it becomes safe to do so.

Montclair State has been fostering a Fulbright culture on campus, and for fall 2021, now has five Fulbright U.S. Student Program semi-finalists, the most the University has had in a single year. Finalists will be notified later this spring.

Semifinalists for Fulbright Study/Research Grant awards are:

  • Archana Prasad ’18 MS, Sustainability Science. Prasad is currently a PhD student at Montclair State in Environmental Science and Management, expecting to earn her doctorate in 2023. She has proposed assessing how climate change and Land Use/Land Cover Change (LULCC) will impact carbon sequestration and water yield in Rwanda. Prasad says this project will serve not just Rwanda but also serve as a guide for ecosystem services assessment in New Jersey. She has previous international experience teaching English in Japan.
  • Emily Ip ’20 earned bachelor degrees in Spanish (Translation concentration) and Linguistics (Language Engineering concentration) with a minor in Music. She plans to pursue a MSc in Computer Science with Speech and Language Processing through Fulbright/University of Sheffield to study clinical applications of cognitive computational models of languages. “I’m humbled to be among the ranks of the most number of Fulbright semi-finalists in Montclair State history,” Ip says. “It’s really been such a light in these uncertain times.”

Semi-finalists for Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) are:

  • Blenda P. Alexandre ’15, ’19 MA earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, a master’s in Clinical Psychology and certification in School Psychology; South Korea. “My goal is to learn more about cultural exchange within schools,” she says. “With the ETA position, I will be able to have firsthand experience in how it manifests in the classroom. My students will be able to learn American culture through my lenses and vice versa.”
  • Alyssa Clauhs ’17, Art History; Montenegro. Clauhs is teaching in the Dominican Republic. “I have an affinity for stepping into new environments and learning situations,” she says.
  • Carmen Rosario ’20, Child Advocacy and Policy; Spain. Rosario works as a crisis counselor on behalf of FEMA and New Jersey Hope and Healing for Church World Service, a resettlement agency that provides assistance to refugees, asylee and asylum seekers. “I understand that it is through our genuine interactions with others that we can have a better understanding of ourselves and hopefully create solutions to the challenges we face today,” she says.

“The University has been building an awareness among faculty and students that these opportunities exist and are achievable for our students,” says Domenica Dominguez, director of the Office of International Academic Initiatives. Her office provides support and advising for students who want to apply for competitive international scholarships such as Fulbright.

“There are many Fulbright alumni among our faculty whose professional and personal development have been positively impacted by their Fulbright experience,” Dominguez says. “Many now actively serve as mentors to our students for the Fulbright program.”

In other prestigious awards, Emily Boyle, a senior Biology major with Chinese and Asian Studies minors, has been awarded the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship to study Mandarin this summer.

Three students have won the U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships to study abroad:

  • Samantha Gerbrick, a junior double majoring in Political Science and German, plans to study at the University of Graz, Austria. She is also the recipient of the University’s Montclair-Graz Sister City Scholarship.
  • Karina Bloom, a freshman majoring in Music Performance, plans to study at Nebrija University in Madrid, Spain. Bloom is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, as a member of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band.
  • Georgi Naumov, a sophomore double majoring in Mathematics and Economics. He plans to study in Madrid, Spain.

“Studying abroad is a life-changing opportunity, and the Gilman scholarship supports students who otherwise may not have been able to do so,” says Samantha Hellwege, Study Abroad coordinator and Gilman advisor. “Despite the current travel restrictions, students are still eager to study abroad and we are hopeful that the disruptions caused by the pandemic will soon be behind us so that their experiences can begin.”

Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren

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