Eight recent St. Olaf graduates win Fulbright fellowships

Eight recent St. Olaf graduates have been named Fulbright fellows, and three members of this year’s graduating class were named alternates. They include (front row, from left) Mary Studer, Susan Hoops, (middle row, from left) Sophie Breen, Mary Katherine Maney, Elaine Macon, (back row, from left) Serena Calcagno, Madison Okuno, and Rinnah Becker.

Eight recent St. Olaf College graduates have been named Fulbright fellows for 2017–18.

The recipients of the prestigious award include five members of this year’s graduating class, as well as three 2016 graduates.

Three will use their Fulbright awards to conduct research, and the other five will take on English teaching assistantships.

Three members of this year’s graduating class were also named alternates in the prestigious program.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is sponsored by the Department of State and awards more than 1,500 grants to U.S. students every year. The program operates in more than 140 countries, seeking to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other countries” and “contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.” Program participants are chosen based on many factors, including leadership potential and academic merit.

The St. Olaf Fulbright recipients and their projects:

Rinnah Becker ’17 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in Asturias, Spain. She also plans to join or create a musical ensemble that she hopes will allow for intercultural collaboration and understanding. She majored in music and Spanish at St. Olaf.

Wendy Bindeman ’16

Wendy Bindeman ’16 will work with a laboratory at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas in Madrid, Spain. Her project investigates the role of specialized cells called “reactive astrocytes” in the growth of cancer cells that have metastasized to the brain. Outside the lab, she hopes to volunteer in English-language classes and join a cycling or running group. While at St. Olaf, she majored in biology and Spanish. Since graduating, she has been working in a Mayo Clinic research lab.

Sophie Breen ’17 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in Argentina. She also plans to organize a pen-pal project between the school there and a school in Minnesota where she worked. After studying abroad in Argentina her junior year, she is thrilled to go back and dive deeper into the culture. She majored in Spanish with concentrations in educational studies, linguistics, and race and ethnic studies at St. Olaf.

Serena Calcagno ’17 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan. She will teach and learn at the intersection of education, China studies, and biology. She will volunteer in Taiwan’s national parks, where she will learn about the peoples of Taiwan through a lens of the island’s mountainous coastal ecology. She will also join and create dancing communities in which to teach Lindy Hop and learn about the traditional dances of Taiwan. She majored in biology at St. Olaf.

Olivia Haines ’16

Olivia Haines ’16 will return to Dehradun, India, to work as an English Teaching Assistant at an all-girls boarding school for students from underprivileged families who have earned a scholarship to attend the rigorous school. She also plans to lead a girls choir and volunteer with a women’s empowerment organization, teaching financial literacy and assisting with micro-banking initiatives. At St. Olaf, Haines majored in social studies education and concentrated in English as a second language education, receiving licenses in both areas. Since graduation, she completed two student-teaching practicums — one in India at a school just 40 minutes from her Fulbright placement school — and one in St. Paul. She is currently substitute teaching in St. Paul.

Susan Hoops ’17 will be conducting research and teaching English at a secondary school in Linz, Austria. She is the recipient of the Fulbright Program’s Combined Award, which involves both teaching 13 hours a week and conducting a research project. Her research is titled “Visualization of the Scientific Workflow.” She will collaborate with a computer scientist, Professor Marc Streit, at Johannes Kepler University in creating a data visualization tool to describe the scientific data analysis process. She majored in mathematics at St. Olaf.

Hannah Lemberg ’16

Hannah Lemberg ’16 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in Sofia, Bulgaria. While in Bulgaria, they will use their time in the school and community to gain greater knowledge of Bulgarian culture and the multiple identities that this encompasses. Additionally, they hope to volunteer with an NGO working with the Roma population in Bulgaria. They majored in political science at St. Olaf.

Mary Studer ’17 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in Mexico. During her time there, she also plans to volunteer with a service organization where she can work alongside community members. In both the classroom setting and the volunteer setting, she hopes to use the skills and knowledge she has gained through her social work major. She majored in both social work and Spanish at St. Olaf.

Elaine Macon ’17 (alternate) submitted a proposal to conduct research in Melbourne, Australia, at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. She majored in biology at St. Olaf.

Mary Katherine Maney ’17 (alternate) submitted a proposal to work as an English Teaching Assistant in Thailand. She majored in vocal music education at St. Olaf.

Madison Okuno ’17 (alternate) submitted a proposal to conduct research on urogenital tract infections at the University of Buea, Cameroon. She majored in biology and French at St. Olaf.