When she received word that she is a 2021-2022 Fulbright finalist for the U.S. Student Program, it took Emily Ip ’20 a few moments to process the news. “I was in utter disbelief. I kept rereading the award letter thinking I was reading it wrong, and just broke down in tears of joy,” says Ip.
Ip is part of a record-breaking number of Fulbright semi-finalists and finalists (or winners) in a single year who are part of the Montclair State community. Earlier this semester, five Red Hawk students were announced as Fulbright U.S. Student Program semi-finalists.
In addition to Ip, the three student finalists are Carmen Rosario ’20 and Blenda Alexandre ’15, ’19 MA. (The two student semi-finalists are Alyssa Clauhs ’17 and Archana Prasad ’18.) In addition, recent doctoral graduate Gail Perry-Ryder ’20 PhD and Peter E. Siegel, professor and chair of the Department of Anthropology, have been selected as Fulbright U.S. Scholars.
The competitive Fulbright program, founded in 1946 by U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright, funded by Congress and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, aims to foster goodwill and understanding between the people of the U.S. and other countries through the international exchange of students and scholars.
Gail Perry-Ryder won the Fulbright scholarship for her work in Barbados where she is studying how a nation’s educational systems respond to social transformation. “Forty percent of the grant will be spent documenting the experiences of Barbadian teachers managing the impact of local and national policies instituted in response to the coronavirus pandemic,” says Perry-Ryder, with 60% of her time spent assisting Erdiston College with the development of a research center to promote faculty and student research on issues of teaching and learning.
“I am most excited because the information I learn could potentially benefit struggling teachers, teacher candidates whose studies have been interrupted, and students whose schooling has been totally transformed over the past year.”
Representing Montclair State faculty as a Fulbright Scholar, Peter E. Siegel will be teaching and researching for two semesters in Jamaica, collaborating with Zachary J. M. Beier of the University of the West Indies at Mona to update Jamaica National Heritage Trust legislation, develop protocols for systematically addressing heritage resources, and foster improved interagency cooperation.
Carmen Rosario will be working in the Canary Islands of Spain as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA). She says that as a first generation college student, she doubted herself and experienced a letdown when her Peace Corps mission to the Dominican Republic was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
“When I found out about my acceptance into Fulbright, I almost couldn’t believe it. With the pandemic and so many changes happening around me I didn’t have any expectations,” she says, adding that after the news sank in, “I felt a sense of relief and pride because my biggest goal after graduation was to work abroad before applying to graduate school. I am extremely grateful and I’m excited to see how I will grow personally and professionally and hopefully inspire other first-generation college students to never limit themselves. My mantra is always to apply ourselves and dream big!”
Blenda P. Alexandre will be working in South Korea. “My goal is to learn more about cultural exchange within schools,” she says. “With the English Teaching Assistantships position, I will 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.”
Domenica Dominguez, director of the Office of International Academic Initiatives, which provides support to students applying for competitive international scholarships, is thrilled for the students she advised: “Through seeking and earning Fulbright awards, these outstanding alumni have demonstrated not only their academic excellence but also their profound commitment to intercultural understanding and to broadening their own perspectives. I congratulate each of them on their achievement!”
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