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Five recent St. Olaf graduates win Fulbright awards to teach and study overseas

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Five recent St. Olaf College graduates have been offered grants to study and teach abroad during the 2024–25 academic year by the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. 

The Fulbright Program was created and funded by Congress in 1946 to promote international goodwill through the exchange of students and scholars in all areas of education, culture, and science. The program awards approximately 1,900 grants annually in all fields of study, and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Here are this year’s recipients:

Miriam Clapp ’24 from Chicago, Illinois, majored in quantitative economics and Chinese. She applied to the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program to return to Taiwan, where she had spent a semester studying abroad and honing her Chinese language skills. While on campus, Clapp worked as a teaching assistant for the Department of Economics, was a St. Olaf Orientation to Academics and Resources (SOAR) leader, and served as a supplemental instruction leader in the Academic Success Center. She was also an active musician on campus, playing as a violinist and serving in student leadership in the St. Olaf Philharmonia, St. Olaf Orchestra, and various chamber music groups. Clapp is deeply honored to have received the Fulbright ETA fellowship, but is instead pursuing a Princeton in Asia fellowship where she will be working at a startup incubator in Taipei, Taiwan. Clapp hopes to continue to develop her language and cross-cultural skills to work in political or commercial diplomacy.

Hannah Monhardt ’24 from Monticello majored in psychology, Asian Studies, and Chinese. She will serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan. Monhardt views the semester that she spent at National Taiwan University as transformational for her, igniting her passion for cross-cultural exchange and for teaching language in the context of everyday activities like volleyball or art. At St. Olaf, she worked as a kitchen manager in the Pause and pursued her interest in art. After her year in Taiwan, Monhardt plans to pursue graduate study in psychology and work with children’s mental health. 

Devon Nielsen ’20 from Lakeville majored in political science and sociology/anthropology. He will help teach English to students in secondary school in Bulgaria. Nielsen’s interest in Bulgaria began when he visited the Bulgarian Embassy while studying in Washington, D.C. While there, he also worked as a legislative assistant for the NAACP and interned for U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar. At St. Olaf, Nielsen served as a Political Awareness Committee coordinator, TRIO Upward Bound mentor, a Resident Assistant, and the Student Government Association President. After he graduated, he joined the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps. After his year in Bulgaria, Nielsen hopes to carry the skills and knowledge gained from his experience into a career in public policy.

Laichia Vang ’24 from Minneapolis majored in political science. She will serve as an English Teaching Assistant in Vietnam and will apply the knowledge and skills from her studies to foster cross-cultural understanding and encourage language learning. On campus, Vang has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club, worked as a writing tutor with the Writing Desk, served as a tutor with TRIO Student Support Services, and was a youth learning and enrichment fellow with AmeriCorps Ampact. After her year in Vietnam, Vang plans to continue her education in either law or sociology, focusing on social justice and institutional reform. 

Atle Wammer ’24 from Portland, Oregon, majored in race and ethnic studies and Asian studies with a concentration in Applied Linguistics. His research in interviewing musicians in Namibia will continue work that he began during a semester abroad in the country. He is especially interested in exploring the aftereffects of apartheid-era censorship amid the changing musical landscape of the country in recent years. While at St. Olaf, Wammer participated in the Chapel Choir and served as captain of the Men’s Rugby Club. He also served as a Mandarin tutor and member of the Community Council. During his time in Windhoek, Namibia, he volunteered as a teacher at the Bernhard Nordkamp Centre. After his Fulbright Fellowship, he hopes to pursue graduate studies in either ethnography or law, focusing on preserving the cultural heritage of ordinary people.  

Applicants to Fulbright at St. Olaf are supported by a robust team of faculty and staff members who help students and alumni connect with nationally competitive fellowship opportunities. Since 1949, St. Olaf has produced more than 200 Fulbright recipients. Last year alone, seven Oles received Fulbright awards. In recent years, St. Olaf recipients have contributed to research projects and teaching fellowships that have focused on topics ranging from how policies impact teacher recruitment and retention to social and emotional development of children to climate change–resilient agricultural practices.