Eleven recent St. Olaf College graduates have been named Fulbright fellows for 2016–17.
The recipients of the prestigious award include eight members of this year’s graduating class, as well as three 2015 graduates.
Six will use their Fulbright awards to conduct research, and the other five will take on English teaching assistantships.
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:
Elizabeth Bews ’15 will conduct research on the archeological record in the Middle Strymon River Valley in Southwestern Bulgaria, whose history has been neglected despite its pivotal position in the ancient world. She will compare patterns of surveys and excavations in this area with Bulgarian governmental nationalist trends in order to determine why some sites have been neglected. She hopes that her research will encourage collaboration between Bulgarian and American archaeologists, as well as a renewed focus on archaeology in the Middle Strymon River Valley. While at St. Olaf, Bews majored in French, history, and Russian area studies.
Mason Braden ’15 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in Mexico. He has also proposed a supplemental project that will involve creating and coaching a local basketball team. Having spent four years as a member of the St. Olaf basketball team, he has experienced the power of athletics to bridge cultural and linguistic differences. Braden majored in Spanish and psychology at St. Olaf.
Sophia Butler ’15 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia. She also plans to lead a community music ensemble that she hopes will build strong relationships among people with many different backgrounds. She majored in music at St. Olaf.
Andrew Hoffman ’16 will analyze the atmospheric chemistry of surface snow layers of Northeastern Greenland’s ice sheet. He will conduct this research as part of the East Greenland Project Ice Core while studying for a master’s degree in climate change at the University of Copenhagen. He majored in mathematics and physics.
Lisa Koetke ’16 will travel to Dehradun, in the state of Uttarakhand in India, to study the diet composition of livestock and wild ungulates through the Wildlife Institute of India. Her research will be used to determine whether the two groups compete for food and whether such competition affects their diets. The results will inform management decisions in the Indian Himalayan region. She majored in biology at St. Olaf.
Sophia Magro ’16 will study teacher-student interactions in elementary schools in Kiel, Germany. The research will examine how communication between native German teachers and Syrian refugee students is related to the development of students’ self-control. She majored in music and psychology with a concentration in educational studies.
Mari McClelland ’16 will conduct research on forest tenure and national forest policy at the local level in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Last year, she was named a Udall Scholar, an award given to students who have demonstrated leadership, public service, and a commitment to careers related to the environment. She majored in Asian studies and environmental studies at St. Olaf.
Erin McHugh ’16 will work as an English Teaching Assistant at the University of Osijek in Croatia, which gives only one teaching grant to a U.S. citizen. During the 2016 Interim, she taught U.S history at Kalani High School and Kamehameha Middle School in Honolulu, Hawaii. She majored in history with a concentration in educational studies.
Cameron Rylander ’16 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in South Korea. In furthering his experience while in South Korea, he hopes to immerse himself in Korean culture by engaging in K-pop dance performances and joining middle-aged communities to cook authentic Korean cuisine. He majored in Asian studies.
Christa Schmidt ’16 will work as an English Teaching Assistant in Malaysia. In addition to her classroom work, she hopes to create a music ensemble that will allow for mutual sharing and teaching. She plans to teach choral pieces commonly sung in America and have her students, in turn, share music they learn and perform in their community. She majored in music education at St. Olaf.
Nora Uhrich ’16 will investigate Norway’s response to victims of sexual violence seeking asylum from other countries. Her research involves examining the factors that influence policies and practices for accepting or rejecting refugee women as well as interviewing women who have gone through the asylum process. In conjunction, she will take psychology courses at the University of Oslo. She majored in psychology, religion, and Norwegian.