As another academic year comes to an end, a record five University of Delaware students and alumni have learned they will begin a new journey abroad with a prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program Award. Four others have been chosen as alternates.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education, is designed to increase mutual understanding between people of the United States and other countries. Awards are granted to students on the basis of academic and professional achievement and support nine to 12 months of research, graduate study or an English teaching assistantship in one of more than 150 countries.
Brendan Haidinger, a Ph.D. student in history, is a Fulbright finalist to Germany. Here, he has received an award to conduct archival research that will contribute to his dissertation on surveillance and policing in the German states of the 19th century.
"His dissertation promises to change our thinking about the relation between states and their citizens," said David Shearer, professor in the Department of History. "Haidinger proposes to re-periodize the discussion about the growth of political policing and surveillance, shifting focus from the 20th to the 19th century. His study is also pertinent to current debates over the balance between citizens' rights and state security."
Linda "Ellie" Halfacre will pursue a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Malaysia.
"I'm looking forward to an international experience as well as the opportunity to support and empower young people through English language learning and extracurricular activities," she said. "I chose this program because I really appreciated the global experiences I had at UD."
Halfacre studied abroad in Morocco with the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and in Denmark through the University's partnership with the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS).
Halfacre will teach two primary or secondary classes daily and will help lead her school's extracurricular activities. "I would love to introduce some kind of computer literacy program into the school, considering how integral computer safety is. A working knowledge of computers will be so important for my students' future careers and key for creating social good." Her inspiration for this, she says, comes from a recent class with Patricia Sloane-White, professor of anthropology. Also a Fulbrighter, Sloane-White annually leads a class that allows UD students to use video conferencing to meet with Malaysian students twice a week.
Ellen Nigro, a second-year fellow in the Winterthur-University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, has received a special Fulbright-American Friends of the Mauritshuis Grant to the Netherlands. According to the American Friends of the Mauritshuis, the award is offered to "outstanding American students in paintings conservation."
During her time in the Hague, Nigro will work at the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis and the University of Amsterdam. "I applied to this fellowship because it presents a unique opportunity for me to work and research in my selected field of paintings conversation, particularly as someone who is interested in Dutch and Flemish art," Nigro said. During her year abroad, she will usher one painting through treatment from beginning to end, analyze the work's materials and conduct in-depth research on the artist.
Nigro said she looks forward to the hands-on skills she'll build as a budding connoisseur. "The best way to learn is by spending time with excellent examples of painting, closely looking and studying. Since I'm interested in Northern European painting, the Mauritshuis is the perfect place for me to do this."
Sara Sajer, a senior English and mass communication major, will travel as a Fulbright student to Kosovo, where she will complete an English Teaching Assistantship at a secondary school.
An ROTC cadet and WVUD host, Sajer first learned of the Fulbright program listening to the Paul Simon song, "I Know What I Know." She hopes to infuse her Fulbright experiences with her passion for radio culture. "I plan to structure my classroom projects and extracurricular activities around radio broadcasting," she said. "This means creative writing projects, mock broadcasts that demand oral presentation and lessons on free press."
Outside of the classroom, Sajer will conduct supplementary research on Balkan radio broadcasting.
For all new Fulbright students, including Sajer, preparing for a Fulbright experience is exhilarating but not without anxiety. "I know the world is what it is, frankly, and not necessarily what I think it should be at the moment" she reflected. "But I can't wait for the moment a lesson first clicks in a classroom. I'm also excited to meet my real person from outside of a small college town limbo, through the culture and people of my new home."
Marta Shakhazizian, who received degrees from UD in sociology and women and gender studies in 2016, will depart for Armenia in August, where she will complete a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.
For Shakhazizian, it was the ability to act as a cultural ambassador that convinced her to apply for an award. "In college, I decided to challenge myself by teaching in diverse environments," she said. During just four short years, Shakhazizian worked as a camp counselor for children impacted by HIV/AIDS, volunteered in the English Language Institute's American Host Partner Program and studied abroad to both India and Ghana, where she presented on health education to local communities. Teaching English in Armenia was the next logical challenge.
"I specifically applied to Armenia because of my heritage," she remarked. "My father has instilled in me that being Armenian is something to be proud of. As someone born in the U.S., I have an equal sense of pride in being American. These two identities, the daughter of an Armenian immigrant and a born and raised American, I think give me a unique ability to fulfill the duties of this position."
For Future Fulbrighters
Shakhazizian gave the following advice for her fellow UD students and alumni: "Go for it. It is a tedious process and the award is competitive, but as someone who is now going abroad for nine months to do something I've been dreaming of for years, I can say without question that every step of the process was worth it."
Rising seniors, graduate students and alumni who plan to apply for a Fulbright award in the fall are invited to attend an upcoming information session from 3-4:30 p.m., Friday, June 16, in 216 McDowell Hall. Those who are unable to attend should contact Katharine Kerrane to set up an in-person or remote appointment.
For more information on Fulbright at the University of Delaware, visit the Institute for Global Studies website or contact UD Fulbright Program advisor Lisa Chieffo.
Article by Nikki Laws